State Dept. Spokeswoman: 'Christian Militant Group' Among 'Extremist Threats We Face'

Susan Jones | February 18, 2015 | 10:36am EST
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State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf presents a daily press briefing on Thursday, June 5, 2014. (Screenshot: State Dep’t)

( - People talk a lot about Islamic extremism and ISIS/ISIL (the guys who behead Christians, among others), but what about Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army?

"I don't remember people talking about that as much anymore, but that's a Christian militant group," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.

She was making the point that terrorism "is not just a threat in one place"  -- and it's not just Islamic:

"If you look at the Lord's Resistance Army and Kony, Joseph Kony -- I don't remember people talking about that as much anymore, but that's a Christian militant group. So there are a lot of different extremists threats we face, and there are different tools we have to go after each one of them."

According to an Associated Press report last November, "Kony's LRA comprises a few hundred fighters who are being hunted down by African Union troops as well as U.S. advisers." Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in a "reign of terror" that has spanned more than two decades in Central Africa.

In October 2011, President Obama informed Congress that "I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield."

Obama noted that Kony's LRA "continues to commit atrocities" across Central Africa "that have a disproportionate impact on regional security."

In March 2014, Obama sent military aircraft and additional Special Operations forces to Uganda to assist in the search for Kony, who remains at large to this day.

On Wednesday, Harf noted that this week's White House summit on "countering violent extremism" involves "over 60 countries from around the world who are facing a number of different kinds of extremist threats," and are coming together to identify "best practices" in identifying potential terrorists and deterring them.

Harf also refused to back off her controversial comment on Monday, that "we cannot win this fight by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war."

"Look, in the short term, and I said this on "Hardball" the other night, we are killing them and we will continue killing ISIL terrorists that pose a threat to us...but in the longer term -- and this isn't specific to ISIL -- military commanders, politicians of both parties, counter-terrorism experts all agree that if you're going to prevent terrorist groups from spreading to other places and getting more recruits, you have to look at the root causes that can lead people to extremism.

"You have to do all of it, you have to take them on militarily, but you have to look at things like governance, like opportunity, so these groups aren't able to get more people to their cause, absolutely."

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