Sec. John Kerry Calls Defeating ISIS ‘Highest Priority’

Secretary of State John Kerry talks to ABC New's Martha Raddatz.

July 19, 2015, 12:53 PM

WASHINGTON — -- Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC News today that despite recent criticism of U.S. efforts to combat the ISIS social media message online, the effort is the State Department's highest priority, following the completion of the Iran nuclear deal.

"It's the highest priority. ISIL is the highest priority of our department right now, besides trying to get this Iran deal completed, obviously,” Kerry told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl in an interview for “This Week.” "It's a major, major push and the highest priority."

The secretary of state, sitting for a joint interview Friday on the Iran nuclear deal with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, defended the Obama administration’s effort to counter the sophisticated social media strategy of ISIS, also referred to as the Islamic State or ISIL.

At a congressional hearing in May, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., criticized the efforts of the State Department in countering ISIS propaganda, saying, "If you know anything about social media, then one of the things you should look at is the engagement of people on our social media feeds, and it's laughable."

"I'm very proud of the fact that we're being self-critical. That our analysis is being done internally and we’re not sitting there stupidly not analyzing what is happening," Kerry said, responding to criticism of social media efforts in a recent State Department memo.

"We just opened a major new media/social media communications center in the United Arab [Emirates]. They have helped stand this up and I think there is an augmented effort that is now going on, we’re working with our allies in Europe and others," Kerry said. "I believe were gearing up from where we were six months ago when this began, we’ve traveled a very good distance and were going to continue to do as best we can to do everything possible to counter that kind of messaging."