Obama: US trying to rescue American woman from Islamic State
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Obama: US trying to rescue American woman from Islamic State

26-year-old aid worker captured by jihadist group last year; identity remains undisclosed out of fear for her safety

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama says the US is doing everything in its power to try to rescue an American woman being held by Islamic State group militants.

A day after a Japanese journalist held by the militants was purportedly beheaded, Obama says the US and its allies are deploying all available tools to identify a 26-year-old aid worker’s location. He called her captivity heartbreaking.

The president spoke in an interview with NBC Sunday. The interview is airing Monday, but the network released excerpts in advance.

The woman was captured last year in Syria. US officials have asked that the woman not be identified out of fears for her safety.

Obama said he has watched videos of hostages being beheaded and says the US has to be aggressive in pursuing terrorists.

“Every morning I get a presidential daily briefing, and it gives me a pretty clear sense of the terrible stuff that’s happening. And it’s part of the reason why we have to be so vigilant and so aggressive in going after a vicious organization like ISIL,” Obama said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

The Islamic State seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria starting in June last year, ruling with a brutal version of Islamic law. The group has massacred, pillaged and raped its way into power, causing thousands to flee their homes and villages.

The jihadist group has murdered both locals and foreigners, including two US journalists, an American aid worker, two British aid workers and a Japanese contractor.

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