Transcript: Hillary Clinton on countering the jihadist narrative

Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on countering the jihadist narrative. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the attacks against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was held on Jan. 23, 2013:

First, we have a lot of tools that we don’t use as well as we should. I think we’ve abdicated the broadcasting arena, where both in TV and radio which are considered kind of old fashioned media are still important in a lot of these ungoverned areas, a lot of these difficult places where we’re trying to do business. And I think we have to get our act together. I would hope this committee would pay attention to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is in desperate need of assistance and intervention, and change.

I think, two, social media is a great tool. We’ve begun trying to use it much more in the State Department and not to communicate with just leaders and officials but really, as you said, get down into the grassroots.

We have also – I started two organizations to deal with and counter violent extremism. One – a new operation inside the State Department that is staffed with inter-agency experts…I’m not saying anything that’s classified but it’s beginning to try to respond to Al Qaeda and other jihadist propaganda. So they put up a video, which talks about how terrible Americans are. We put up a video which talks about how terrible they are. We’re trying to meet them in the media channels that they are communicating with people.

We’re also at the beginning of an organization I helped to stand up – the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum. Because if we don’t work with partners and understand more effectively how to counter violent extremism, how to stop recruiters, how to turn families and communities against these jihadists, there will be a constant flow of them so we have to be smarter about that…

It’s not a perfect analogy but I would say that our fight against international communism, against Soviet Union during the Cold War – we did a lot of things really well. I mean, we kept people’s hopes alive. We communicated with freedom lovers and advocates behind the Iron Curtain. We did it through media. We did it through our values. Well, I think we’ve got a similar challenge even though it’s a very different world. And let’s get smart about it, and let’s figure out how we’re going to put some points on the board so-to-speak in dealing with both governments and populations…


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