WH Spokesman: We Are In a 'Narrative Battle' With ISIS; 'They Want to Project That They Are...Representing Islam'

By Susan Jones | September 19, 2016 | 9:24am EDT
White House spokesman Josh Earnest (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - After a weekend of bloodshed in two out of five actual or attempted terror attacks, President Obama's spokesman said the U.S. is engaged in a "narrative battle" with the Islamic State.

"When it comes to ISIL, we are in a fight -- a narrative fight with them, a narrative battle," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told CNN's "New Day" on Monday morning.

"And what ISIL wants to do is, they want to project that they are an organization that is representing Islam, in a fight, in a war against the West, in a war against the United States. That is a bankrupt, false narrative. It's a mythology. And we have made progress in debunking that mythology."

The FBI is now looking for a naturalized citizen from Afghanistan in connection with a bombing in lower Manhattan on Saturday night that injured 29 people. A second device, a pressure cooker bomb, was found four blocks away before it exploded.

A Somali Muslim is suspected in a knife attack Saturday night at a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota that injured 9 people. The Islamic State reportedly is taking credit for that attack.

There were two other attacks over the weekend: One Saturday morning at a Marine Corps charity race in Seaside, New Jersey. That bomb, placed in a trash can, exploded when no one was nearby. And five pipe bombs placed in a backpack near the Elizabeth, New Jersey train station were found on Sunday night before they did any damage.

According to Earnest, "ISIL was a group that was viewed as on the move and on the march when they made a bunch of progress in Iraq a couple of summers ago." He noted that since that time, the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq has taken back territory captured by ISIL and killed some of the groups senior leaders.

"So we have made progress in debunking this mythology that somehow ISIL is waging this war. But here's another element of this fight. We can't play into this narrative that somehow the United States and the West is fighting against the Muslim religion."

Earnest pointed to "millions of patriotic Muslims" in the U.S. who are making positive contributions to the country.

We can't suggest and hold under suspicion individuals as possible terrorists just because of the way that they worship God. That is contrary to what we believe as Americans and also undermines our fight against ISIL."

So far, the only comment from the White House on the weekend attacks has come from Josh Earnest. Earnest said Obama may talk about the attacks later today.

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