Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein speaks to United States retired ex-army General, David H. Petraeus (centre) at an interactive dialogue session held at Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia. Pic by HALIM SALLEH

KUALA LUMPUR: The real challenge in fighting militant groups lies not only in the use of force but also winning over the minds and hearts of the people who are easily influenced, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said.

He said advocacy played a big part in “It's actually winning over the minds and hearts of those who are vulnerable and easily influenced," he said.

Hishammuddin said this in his welcome speech for United States retired ex-army General, David H. Petraeus at an interactive dialogue session held at Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia, here, this evening.

He said groups like Islamic State (IS) were preying on such people because they are the easiest to brainwash and recruit as militants.

Hishammuddin said the younger generation today must be strong, aware and wary of these tactics to avoid from being influenced.

He added that even though the situation in South East Asia was largely peaceful, the IS threat should not be taken lightly.


Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein delivers his speech at an interactive dialogue session held at Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia. Pic by HALIM SALLEH

Meanwhile, Petraeus who previously also served as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, acknowledged Hishammuddin's view on tackling threats related to terrorism.

"Today the threat is everywhere, almost daily in the age and era of digitalisation and technology.

"Unlike back then when we were at war meant we we're physically fighting our enemies but today we are up against cyber soldiers instead. Making it even more sophisticated as it's all done over the cyber space," he said adding that a combination of traditional and soft power approach would be most effective in dealing with such threats.

"We are up against enemies who we may not know and it's a really a task to keep up with the threats we face today.

“Even US finds it difficult to stay updated with this new complex arena," he said.

Petraeus added that comprehensive security in the form of integrated support and protection was vital to win against terrorism.

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