President Barack Obama told graduating cadets at the West Point military academy Saturday the United States faces a “tough fight” against insurgents in Afghanistan, and he sought closer coordination with Pakistani intelligence agencies to uncover terror plots.

“We need intelligence agencies that work seamlessly with their counterparts to unravel plots that run from mountains of Pakistan to the streets of our cities; law enforcement that can strengthen judicial systems abroad and protect us at home; and first responders who can act swiftly in the event of earthquakes, storms and disease,” he said in an address to the academy’s commencement ceremony.

Obama said that al-Qaeda was misinterpreting Islam, saying, “extremists want a war between America and Islam, but Muslims are a part of our national life, including those who serve in our Army. Adversaries want to divide us, but we are united by our support for you, soldiers who send a clear message that this country is both the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

The president told the 1,300 graduates that the US faces “difficult days ahead”, and that the threat posed by al-Qaeda operatives across the globe “will not go away soon”.

“This time of war began in Afghanistan, a place that may seem as far from this peaceful bend in the Hudson River as anywhere on Earth,” Obama said, referring to a conflict that started after the al-Qaeda terror network attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.