President Barack Obama can duck a question with the best of them, but when he was asked about the arrest in Pakistan of five allegedly home-grown U.S. jihadists, he seized the opportunity to damp down a potential backlash against American Muslims and praised the community for its “fierce patriotism.”
“What has been remarkable over the course of the last eight, nine years since 9/11 is the degree to which America has reaffirmed the extraordinary contributions of the Muslim American community,” he told a brief press conference during his Nobel Peace Prize visit to Oslo.
Pakistani officials said the five young men, students in their 20′s from northern Virginia who were detained in a city called Sargodha to the southeast of the capital Islamabad, appear to have been intent on “jihad.”
The arrests follow repeated warnings by U.S. intelligence officials of the potential risk of U.S. citizens being recruited by militants. U.S. authorities have also recently charged 14 people with recruiting, training and funding young Somali-American men to join and fight with an al Qaeda proxy on the Horn of Africa.
“Now, the Muslim American community is vast, so we have to constantly be mindful that some of these twisted ideologies are available over the Internet and can affect our young people. But I think we’ve got a good story to tell here and one that we need to build on,” Obama said.