WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will use his Sunday night address on terrorism to urge the American people not to “give in to fear” after the California shootings, and may ask Congress to take action to further safeguard national security, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.
Lynch also said that “dealing with guns is one way to handle the violence crime issues that we have in this country.”
The White House said Obama would provide an update on Wednesday’s shootings in San Bernardino that killed 14 and wounded 21, and discuss the broader threat of terrorism, including how it has evolved and how he plans to defeat it. Authorities say a married couple – a 28-year-old American-born man and a 29-year-old woman originally from Pakistan – was responsible, and that the woman had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group on Facebook as they went on their rampage.
The FBI is investigating the massacre as a terrorist attack that, if proved, would be the deadliest by Islamic extremists on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
“I think what you’re going to hear from him is a discussion about what government is doing to ensure all of our highest priority – the protection of the American people,” Lynch said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
She said the president would talk about steps taken since Sept. 11 and the recent Paris attacks to safeguard U.S. interests and Americans, and urge them to “not give in to fear at this time.”
In his weekend radio and Internet address, Obama said it was “entirely possible that these two attackers were radicalized to commit this act of terror. And if so, it would underscore a threat we’ve been focused on for years – the danger of people succumbing to violent extremist ideologies.”
FBI Director James Comey has said there was no indication yet that the plot was directed by any other foreign terrorist group, though he would not rule out that future possibility.
“The investigation so far has developed indications of radicalization by the killers and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations,” Comey said Friday.
Some of the Republican presidential candidates had quickly labeled the shootings an act of terrorism and faulted Obama for not saying so immediately.
On Thursday, as investigators were searching for a motive, Obama said at the White House that the shootings could have been terrorist-related or workplace-related. He then called it an “act of terror” in his radio address two days later.
In those remarks, he said IS and other terrorist groups are “actively encouraging people – around the world and in our country – to commit terrible acts of violence, often times as lone-wolf actors. And even as we work to prevent attacks, all of us – government, law enforcement, communities, faith leaders – need to work together to prevent people from falling victim to these hateful ideologies.”
The shootings, he added, presented “another tragic reminder that here in America it’s way too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun.”
Authorities say they believe the guns used in San Bernardino were legally obtained.