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Obama Vows No Safe Haven for Terrorists as New Solutions Sought

Updated on
  • Obama says attacks show terror threat in many nations
  • Malaysia has arrested dozens on suspected links to IS

U.S. President Barack Obama vowed terrorists won’t have a safe haven as he condemned Friday’s attack in Mali, while Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called for new solutions to tackle religious extremism, saying military force alone won’t be enough.

"We’ll continue to root out terrorist networks," Obama said in a speech in Kuala Lumpur Saturday. "We will not allow these killers to have a safe haven."

Barack Obama during The Asean Business and Investment Summit

Photographer: Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images

Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen entered the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, on Friday, firing weapons and trapping as many as 170 people inside. About 20 civilians and two gunmen were killed, the army said.

"Like the heinous attacks we saw in Paris -- and attacks we see all too often elsewhere -- this is another awful reminder that the scourge of terrorism threatens so many of our nations," Obama said. "And once again, this barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge."

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris last week that killed about 130 people and for the explosion of the Russian airliner with 224 people on board over Egypt last month. French jets last Sunday dropped bombs and struck targets including an Islamic State command base in Raqqa, Syria.

‘Perverted Ideology’

"We should examine why any should be misguided enough to follow this perverted ideology – what is their motivation?" Najib said in a speech in Kuala Lumpur Saturday. "It is the ideology propagated by these extremists that is the cause of this sadistic violence."

The U.S. has been working with Malaysia on countering terrorism, and the Southeast Asian nation has arrested dozens of suspects who authorities said were plotting attacks in the country or linked to Islamic State. Some have been arrested upon their return from Syria.

"The perpetrators of these cowardly and barbaric acts do not represent any race, religion or creed, nor should we allow them to claim to do so," Najib said referring to terror attacks around the world in recent weeks including the beheading of a Malaysian hostage in southern Philippines. "They are terrorists and should be confronted as such, with the full force of the law."

Attacks in Southeast Asia -- home to about 15 percent of the world’s 1.57 billion Muslims, according to the Pew Research Center -- have declined over the past decade as security forces arrested or killed militants. There is concern, however, that returning Islamic State militants could stage attacks or re-energize groups like Jemaah Islamiyah, responsible for the deadly 2002 nightclub bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

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