- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

As he hosts a summit in Washington on countering violent extremism, President Obama says the U.S. must engage with local communities to win the “hearts and minds” of young Muslims to prevent their recruitment by terrorist groups.

“The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam,” Mr. Obama wrote in an op-ed in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times. “We can echo the testimonies of former extremists who know how terrorists betray Islam. We can help Muslim entrepreneurs and youths work with the private sector to develop social media tools to counter extremist narratives on the Internet.”

Mr. Obama said U.S. military might alone “cannot solve this problem” of global terrorism.

“Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians,” he said. “We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.”

The president said groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State “promote a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims.”

Mr. Obama is hosting a conference of local leaders and foreign ministers to examine the root causes of violent extremism.

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