WATCH: Obama Acknowledges U.S. 'Underestimated ISIS'

President Obama on CBS's 60 Minutes acknowledged that U.S. intelligence failures led to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

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Haaretz
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Haaretz

In a candid interview with CBS, U.S. President Barak Obama acknowledged U.S. intelligence and policy failures which led to the rise of the Islamic State and current need for military action to combat the jihadist militants. "Essentially what happened with ISIL was that you had al Qaeda in Iraq, which was a vicious group, but our Marines were able to quash with the help of Sunni tribes. They went back underground, but over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you had huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos."

Obama went on to explain the lure of the Islamic State to foreigners: "They attract foreign fighters who believed in their jihadist nonsense and traveled everywhere from Europe to the United States to Australia to other parts of the Muslim world, converging on Syria, and so this became ground zero for jihadists around the world."

Obama noted the group's strength in using the internet and social media in getting out its message and recruiting new members. "That's why it's so important for us to recognize part of the solution here is gonna be military. We just have to push them back, and shrink their space, and go after their command and control, and their capacity, and their weapons, and their fueling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters."

U.S. President Barack Obama at the NATO summit in Newport, Wales, Sept. 5, 2014Credit: AP
Which countries support the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State?Credit: Haaretz

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