This article puts forth a “4M Way” of dealing with the threat of violent Islamist extremism in Southeast Asia. It argues that our narrative must be fundamentally more attractive to the target audience than the competing vision of the violent extremists. The memes that constitute our narrative in the social media space must be “stickier” than those of the violent extremists. The personal credibility of our messenger in the eyes of the target audience should exceed that of extremist ideologues vis-á-vis that same audience. The mechanisms that we employ to impart our messages to the target audience must be more effective that those employed by the violent extremists. Finally, we must ensure that the market receptivity of the target audience is promoted —by coordinating whole-of-government policies such that activities within the counter-narrative space are supported and not inadvertently undercut by policy and military missteps in the wider operational space.



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