U.S. Embassy Partners with SEARCCT to Host Regional Workshop on Countering Online Violent Extremist Narratives

Photo of Ambassador Fernandez
Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, Coordinator of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications speaking at the workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (U.S. Embassy photo)

The United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism (SEARCCT) partnered to host the Southeast Asia Regional Workshop on Countering Online Violent Extremist Narratives from November 4 – 6, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur. Over 60 participants from various ASEAN countries, the United States and Australia attended the workshop, aimed at sharing best practices for countering violent extremist narratives online and through social media.

The workshops addressed such issues as what role can Governments play at encouraging moderate voices to use social media tools to conquer hate and extremism, and how to train individuals the basics of how to successfully get a message out, the art of storytelling, and the creation of viral messages.  Key contributors to the workshop included the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), the lnstitute for lnternational Peace Building in lndonesia (Yayasan Prasasti Perdamaian), Google, and the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), which conducts an integrated analysis of terrorism messaging worldwide and seeks to devise effective ways to counter those messages.

Social media is an increasingly important part of the radicalisation process in Southeast Asia, offering prospective radicals an opportunity to develop social ties and find validation through others, thus providing the critical element of social interaction at relatively low cost.  As many as 200 Indonesians and at least 30 Malaysians have travelled to Syria to fight with the Islamic State and other rebel groups via third-party countries such as Egypt and Turkey, according to a report by New York-based Soufan Group, which provides strategic analysis to governments.

IS/ISIL employs a sophisticated social-media strategy to inflate and control its message, and to recruit, radicalize and raise funds. Researchers working for the Terrorist Informatics Project at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research track jihad related websites to understand radical teachings on the web and identify new patterns in how transnational terrorists communicate, recruit and train members.

The White House strategy for countering violent extremism (CVE) seeks to encourage and empower credible, authentic, and constructive online voices who will in turn play a leading role in helping to counter al-Qa’ida’s attempts to recruit home-grown Americans.