U.S. Plans to Use Apple, Facebook Success to Counter Extremism

The Obama administration is enlisting the global appeal of U.S. success stories such as Apple Inc.’s Steve Jobs, fashion designer Tory Burch and Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg to help counter the ideological challenge of Islamic extremism.

Vice President Joe Biden leads a delegation of U.S. officials today at a Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Morocco that organizers expect will draw about 3,000 participants. The summit is the fifth since President Barack Obama unveiled the idea in Cairo in a 2009 speech on U.S. relations with Muslims.

“If you think about opportunity and hope and aspiration, there’s nothing more fulfilling than starting a business,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, a speaker at the conference and a billionaire heiress to the Hyatt Hotel Corp. chain who started enterprises including the Vi retirement community chain.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes portrayed the effort as one front in the fight against the Islamic State extremist movement, which the Obama administration identifies by the acronym ISIL.

“The best answer to the young person taping a video about jihad for ISIL is a young person starting a business and creating opportunities in their own communities because they’re an entrepreneur,” Rhodes said.

The three-day summit in Marrakesh, Morocco, will primarily be a networking and inspirational event for potential entrepreneurs and government officials featuring programs focusing on creating opportunities for women and young people, Pritzker and Rhodes said.

Three of 11 Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship Obama has named also will go to the summit: Daphne Koller, co-founder and president of Coursera Inc.; Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and chief executive officer of Chobani LLC; and Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest Inc.

A White House official who asked for anonymity said the Obama administration has committed about $3.2 billion to assist development of small- and medium-sized enterprises.

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