President Barack Obama said the fight against violent extremism is a “battle for hearts and minds,” as he called for unity on the second day of a conference bringing together 60 countries Wednesday.
Obama is asking Congress to take a tough vote backing his military plan to defeat IS worldwide. But US military action has so far proven the wrong tool to combat a robust social media and propaganda operation whose success at recruiting fighters and militants from western communities has been alarmingly impressive.
“In just a very short period of time we’ve come a long way in terrorist organizations’ ability to communicate,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday as he opened the second day of the three-day event.
“They have the ability to reach into our communities and attempt to recruit and inspire individuals who may turn toward violence right here in the homeland.”
During the three-day conference, Washington is working to highlight local models for preventing radicalization that could be replicated in other communities.