-- President Obama said a stabbing attack in Minnesota is being investigated by the FBI as a “potential act of terrorism" and sought to reassure the American people that counterterrorism officials at every level are working to keep Americans safe.
“The FBI is investigating the Minnesota incident as a potential act of terrorism,” Obama said. “We will direct the full resources from the federal government to make sure that the investigation goes forward aggressively.”
He said there is no intelligence at this point that connects the attacks in New York and New Jersey with the attack in Minnesota.
Obama also said he has been in touch with the governors of the affected states and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and has pledged all necessary federal cooperation in investigating the attacks. He also said he has been “monitoring the situation closely” and was briefed by FBI Director James Comey shortly before making his statement to the press.
The president also addressed the fight against ISIS, expressing resolve to defeat extremist ideology.
“We will continue to lead the global coalition on the fight to destroy [ISIS], which is instigating a lot of people over the internet to carry out attacks. We are going to continue to go after them. We’re going to take out their leaders. We’re going to take out their infrastructure. They are continuing to lose ground in Iraq and in Syria, and later today I’ll be meeting with Prime Minister [Haider al-]Abadi of Iraq to discuss the need to sustain that momentum.”
In his conversations with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, de Blasio, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Obama said, they spoke of the toughness and resolve of the people in the region, and he complimented that mindset.
“One point they all made is, folks around here, they don’t get scared. They are tough. They are resilient. They go about their business every single day. And that [is the] kind of toughness and resoluteness and a recognition that neither individuals nor organizations like [ISIS] can ultimately undermine our way of life. That’s the kind of strength that makes me so proud to be an American. And that’s the kind of strength that is going to be absolutely critical — not just in the days to come but in the years to come,” he said.
Obama expressed gratitude that there was no loss of life in the attacks.
“We are extremely fortunate grateful that nobody was killed,” he said. “Our prayers go out to all those injured. We want to wish them a speedy recovery.”
The White House has refrained from weighing in on the attacks and instead has deferred to officials on the front lines of the investigations. In his statement Obama continued to defer questions on the investigations to the FBI and local law enforcement officials.
Suspect Ahmad Khan Raham, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, was taken into custody Monday morning in Linden, New Jersey, after the FBI released a wanted poster for his capture, calling him a person of interest in connection with this weekend’s bombings in New York City and New Jersey.