President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron together pledged to form a united front against the growing threat from homegrown Islamic militants by sharing intelligence, backing each other in military operations and working on ways to counter extremist messages that have radicalized young Muslims.
Appearing at a joint White House news conference, they said they were also working with tech companies to make it easier for authorities to monitor terrorists who recruit and plot online without sacrificing privacy concerns raised by the 2013 disclosure of government spying by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Cameron's visit to the United States comes a week after Islamic militants killed 17 people in France, igniting concerns across Europe about the threat of homegrown terrorists trained in the Middle East.
He is making an aggressive pitch for U.S. tech companies to give law enforcement more access to communications they've started encrypting in response to the Snowden revelations. Obama hasn't taken a public stand on Cameron's specific policy proposals, but he said the government needed the tech companies' help.
"Social media and the Internet is the primary way in which these terror organizations are communicating," Obama said. "They’re good at it, and when we have the ability to track that, in a way that is legal, conforms with due process, the rule of law and oversight, that’s a capability we have to preserve."
While those talks continue, Obama and Cameron said they were planning "a series of actions" to do a better job identifying people who are traveling to Syria to get trained by Islamic extremists and hatch plots in their home countries.
They also announced a joint effort to identify what more the countries can do to fight homegrown extremism, which Cameron characterized as a "poisonous, fanatical, death cult." That includes seeking help in Muslim communities to promote tolerance and peace.