Obama to meet with officials on ISIS

President Obama will head to the State Department on Friday for a meeting on U.S. efforts to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), less than a week before a gathering of top European and Arab coalition allies in the Middle East.

The meeting will feature members of the president's National Security Council, as well as Vice President Biden. It's the latest in a series of off-campus trips for Obama to discuss efforts against the terrorist network; in recent weeks Obama has visited the Pentagon, Andrews Air Force Base and U.S. Central Command for briefings on the campaign.


"Just as the President held a recent meeting with this National Security Council at the Pentagon to discuss our campaign against ISIL, this is an opportunity to do the same at the State Department, which has the lead role on some of the non-military lines of effort," a senior administration official said.

Friday's meeting comes three days before U.S. diplomats head to Kuwait for a conference on combating ISIS.

Senior officials from Bahrain, Egypt, France, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emerates have been invited, according to the State Department.

Asking mainstream religious figures to help counter propaganda spread by ISIS will be among the agenda topics discussed, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, as well as efforts to eliminate the spread of radical ideology through social media.

"Obviously, there’s a role that religious leaders can play speaking out against how – the fact that ISIL is not Islam," Psaki said, using an alternative abbreviation for the group. "There is a role that governments can play making clear to their people what ISIL is and what it is not. There’s a role that they can play to outline the alternative and what young people should look to and what other aspirations they can have."

Attention has focused on that effort after a pair of terrorist attacks in Canada's capital city of Ottawa, where a gunman apparently radicalized over the Internet killed Canadian soldiers. In the second incident, a gunman exchanged fire with police inside the Canadian parliament building moments after killing a soldier guarding the National War Memorial.

The U.S. Treasury Department also said Thursday it was "very focused" on disrupting fundraising for terror groups over social media.

"You see these appeals on Twitter in particular from, you know, well-know terrorist financiers ... and they’re quite explicit that these are to be made to ISIL for their military campaign," David Cohen, the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said during an appearance in the Whie House briefing room.

"That makes the efforts of countries in the Gulf that are, you know, quite intent on preventing funding from going to ISIL — the Saudis, for instance — it makes their efforts more difficult because these are appeals that are made, you know, over social media and made broadly."