Obama: U.S. can't "play whack-a-mole" with militant groups

President Obama said the Sunni militants that have taken over parts of northern Iraq pose a "medium- and long-term threat" to the U.S. because of their extreme ideology, although other groups probably have more advanced immediate plans to attack U.S.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized their fourth town in two days over the weekend as Shiite militiamen began to march in Iraqi cities.

Mr. Obama told CBS News' Norah O'Donnell that he expects that the local populations would reject ISIS because of their extreme and violent behavior. The biggest threat they pose, he said, is their ability to continue destabilizing the country and creating violence that could spill over into other countries in the region.

"I think it's important for us to recognize that ISIS is just one of a number of organizations that we have to stay focused on," Mr. Obama said, noting that groups like al Qaeda and Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped hundreds of young women in Nigeria, are still active.

"This is going to be a global challenge and one that the United States is going to have to address but we're not going to be able to address it alone. And as I said yesterday, what we can't do is think that we're just going to play whack-a-mole and send U.S. troops occupying various countries wherever these organizations pop up," the president said. "We're going to have to have a more focused, more targeted strategy and we're going to have to partner and train local law enforcement and military to do their jobs as well."

More of O'Donnell's interview with the president will air Monday morning on "CBS This Morning."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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