(WEEKLYSTANDARD) — Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that to counter the ideology of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its claim of a "religious foundation" for its actions, part of the strategy of the international coalition he is attempting to assemble must be to "begin to put real Islam out there." Kerry, in Paris for talks with various world leaders to build that coalition, further said that all of the Arab leaders he had spoken with earlier concurred about their focus on "real Islam and how important the Friday sermons are." The secretary of state recently said that ISIL's ideology "has nothing to do with Islam" and President Obama echoed these words, saying that "ISIL is not 'Islamic.'"
Kerry's remarks about "real Islam" came during a "roundtable discussion" with the press after the secretary met with representatives from twenty-six countries to discuss how to confront the threat posed by ISIL. In recent days Kerry has alternated between calling the action against ISIL "war" and "counter-terrorism," but in any case he downplayed the military aspect of the operation. The military piece, he said, is a "critical component", but "probably far more important" will be the effort to "start drying up this pool of jihadis who get seduced into believing there’s some virtue in crossing into Syria to fight or to join ISIL."