(NEW YORK) — Asked Monday by the hosts of ABC’s The View if the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a “terrorist attack,” President Obama said that “there is no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action.”
The administration, which is still investigating the attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, has previously said that, based on what they knew so far, the assault was linked to broader protests fueled by an anti-Islam movie.
“We don’t have all the information yet and so we’re still gathering it,” the president said. “But what’s clear is around the world there’s still a lot of threat out there. That’s why we have to maintain the strongest military in the world, that’s why we can’t let down our guard when it comes to the intelligence work that we do and staying on top of — not just al Qaeda, but all these various fringe groups that have started to develop.” While the “overwhelming majority of Muslims they want the same things that families here want,” the president said, “there are extremist frames that are there and these countries are still going through transition.”
“They don’t have strong institutions … they don’t have a strong police force, a strong military and in that vacuum what you start seeing is these extremists trying to take advantage,” Obama explained. The president said the U.S. is not going to “shrink back from the world” because of this attack and the growing unrest in the Muslim world, a message he is expected to convey in his remarks before the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday.
“We are going to hunt down those who did this,” he said of the attackers. “We will bring them to justice. We will make sure that we do everything we have to do to protect our embassies and our diplomatic posts, but we’re going to stay engaged.”
The president and first lady’s interview on The View airs Tuesday at 11 a.m. EST on ABC.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN
Georgia McCafferty and Junko Ogura, CNN