Pompeo blames 'Islamic radical terror' for attacks
The Hill :
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday blamed "a horrific wave of Islamic radical terror" for the deadly bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday that killed hundreds, including some U.S. citizens.
"What was supposed to be a joyful Easter Sunday was marred by a horrific wave of Islamic radical terror and bloodshed," Pompeo said at a news conference at the State Department.
Pompeo said that he had spoken to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe earlier Monday morning and that the United States is offering "all possible assistance" to the Sri Lankan government and U.S. citizens impacted by the terror attacks.
"We urge that any evildoers be brought to justice expeditiously and America is prepared to support that," Pompeo added. "We stand committed,Â Â resolved, to confront terrorism together."
The Sri Lankan government has blamed an obscure local Islamist terror group known as National Thowheeth Jama-ath for the suicide bombings, which struck hotels and churches Easter Sunday, killing nearly 300 people and wounding scores more. Government officials also believe that the attackers were aided by international terrorists, according to the New York Times.
In a statement issued Sunday following the attacks, Pompeo said "several" Americans had been killed. The State Department has not provided a specific number.
Pompeo told reporters Monday that the attacks show that "radical Islamic terror remains a threat" when asked whether they illuminated the ongoing dangers posed by ISIS.
President Trump earlier this year claimed that the ISIS caliphate had been "100 percent" defeated in Syria - remarks that triggered scrutiny and have been undercut by statements from U.S. officials about the remaining threat from the group's militants.
Pompeo asserted Monday that Trump has been "very clear" about the ongoing threat posed by ISIS.
"We've taken that threat down substantially," Pompeo said. "The destruction of the caliphate was important and it mattered, and the take down of these threats from other geographies as well."
"But sadly, this evil exists in the world and the United States and all of its partners that are cooperating in the de-ISIS campaign, some 80 countries, and other nations too that are assisting us in defeating this terrorism around the world, we have to remain active and vigilant and it's going to require attention. There is no doubt about that," Pompeo said.