President Barack Obama told reporters Wednesday that the Islamic State does not pose an existential threat to the United States one day after the jihadist group claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium.
“Groups like [ISIS] can’t destroy us; they can’t defeat us; they don’t produce anything,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Argentinian President Mauricio Macri during a state visit.
“They’re not an existential threat to us,” Obama said.
The president’s comments come the day after ISIS carried out coordinated terror attacks in Brussels, the capital of the European Union, killing at least 31 people and wounding over 200 others.
Obama has received much criticism from both sides of the political aisle for choosing to attend a baseball game in Cuba after the attacks rather than return to Washington to handle the aftermath of the violence. He spent 51 seconds acknowledging the attack during formal remarks the same day to an audience in Cuba.
Critics say the president does not recognize the severity of the threat ISIS poses to the West and that he needs to rethink his strategy to defeat the jihadist group.
Obama also underwent scrutiny late last year for saying that ISIS was ‘contained’ the day before it launched coordinated attacks in Paris, which resulted in 130 deaths.