President Barack Obama gave a rare address to the Oval Office after the attack in San Bernardino last week that killed 14 people.
Barack Obama said the killings were “an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people.”
“Freedom is stronger than fear” the president said, warning that falling victim to division in American society would play into the hands of extremists.
Barack Obama also said the United States should make it more difficult for potential attackers to acquire weapons.
The president promised that the United States would overcome the evolving threat of terrorism, but warned that Americans “could not turn against each other by allowing this battle to be described as a war between America and Islam.”
“In order to defeat terrorism, we need to attract Muslim communities as one of our strongest allies, rather than repelling them through suspicion and hatred.” Barack Obama said.
He reminded his audience that American Muslims are part of American society.
“And, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are ready to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that. “ he said.
Barack Obama has warned that turning against Muslim communities in America will be exactly what Islamist extremists from the so-called Islamic State group want.
The president told Americans that terrorism had entered a new phase, from large-scale al-Qaeda attacks to less complex attacks by radicalized individuals.
He said the United States would use “every aspect of American power” to fight ISIL.
Barack Obama stressed that the United States and its allies have increased their bombing of Islamic State’s oil infrastructure and will continue to train and equip moderate insurgents in Iraq and Syria.
“Our military will continue to hunt down terrorist conspirators in any country where necessary,” he said.
Barack Obama added that there are a number of things that can be done in his homeland to fight terrorism.
He called for tighter gun control and said he had ordered state and national security ministries to review the K-1 fiancé visa program, according to which the San Bernardino attacker had originally entered the United States.
This was only the third address of the Oval Office of Barack Obama’s presidency – they are reserved for events of national importance.
Barack Obama’s speech was in response to a mass shooting by a married couple that killed 14 people.
Sayed Rizwan Farouk, 28, and his wife, Tashfin Malik, opened fire at an office Christmas party and were later killed in a shootout with police.
In his speech, the president described ISIL as “thugs and murderers”, adding: “The threat of terrorism is real, but we will overcome it.”
The group said in a radio broadcast that the couple, which Syed Rizuan Farouk and Tashfin Malik were supporters of ISIL, but did not indicate that ISIL was involved in planning the attack.
The FBI is also reviewing reports. Tashfin Malik posted a message on Facebook promising allegiance to ISIL during the attacks.
Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik used pistols and semi-automatic weapons that were legally purchased in the United States, police said.
Bombs, weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition were later found in their home.
The San Bernardino attack is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since 26 people were killed at a school in Connecticut in 2012.
Authorities said there were no indications so far that the killers were part of an “organized group or part of a broader terrorist cell.”