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Obama vows to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS, Biden says ‘to the gates of hell'

Both President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden had strong words directed toward ISIS on Wednesday following the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff that was released by the terrorist group on a video Tuesday.

During a news conference in Estonia Wednesday morning on the eve of a NATO summit meeting in Wales on Thursday, President Barack Obama vowed to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.
During a news conference in Estonia Wednesday morning on the eve of a NATO summit meeting in Wales on Thursday, President Barack Obama vowed to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Photo by Pool/Getty Images

During a news conference in Estonia Wednesday morning on the eve of a NATO summit meeting in Wales on Thursday, The New York Times reported that Obama has vowed to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.

“We will not be intimidated,” President Obama said. “Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists. And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.” Obama added, “Whatever these murderers think they will achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed.”

Obama gave his condolences to both the families of James Foley and Sotloff saying, “We cannot even begin to imagine the agony that everyone who loves Steven is feeling right now, especially his mother, his father and his younger sister. So today our country grieves with them.”

The president’s remarks came just hours after the White House intelligence agencies declared the video showing the beheading of Sotloff is considered authentic.

Obama defended his earlier statements about not having a strategy for striking ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria which received sharp criticism. “It is very important from my perspective that when we send our pilots in to do a job, that we know that this is a mission that’s going to work, we’re very clear what our objectives are, what our targets are, we've made the case to Congress and we've made the case to the American people, and we have allies behind us, so that it’s not just a one-off.”

During a speech in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Wednesday morning, Vice-President Joe Biden also had strong words for ISIS.

“We will follow them to the gates of hell until we get justice, because hell is where they will reside,” Biden said.

Washington Secretary of State John Kerry said the execution of Sotloff was like a “punch to the gut” adding, “Barbarity, sadly isn’t new to our world. Neither is evil. We’ve taken the fight to it before and we’re taking the fight to it today.”

Kerry went on to express his outrage saying the executions of both journalists were “unfathomable brutality and that Sotloff was “taken from us in an act of medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask.”