Governments of the United States and the United Arab Emirates have launched an online messaging center that will challenge ISIS propaganda over the Internet. The group is known to extensively use social media to spread their campaign and even recruit members.
The two governments on Wednesday launched the Sawab Center, described as the “first-ever multinational online messaging and engagement program.” Richard Stengel, the U.S. undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, told the Associated Press the center will help “rectify the wrong impression that ISIL is beating us in the information war and the social media war.”
The center issued messages on Twitter and posted a YouTube video. It imparted messages that the militants were twisting the Islam faith to spread hate, fear and intolerance. The Sawab Center is based in Abu Dhabi. The Arabic word “sawab,” means “right” or “correct” as in “the right path.”
“One of the ideas of the Sawab Center and what we do in terms of messaging ourselves from Washington is to try to stem the flow of foreign fighters,” Stengel said. “To, if somebody is debating whether to go, tell them that the mythology of what Daesh [Islamic State] is creating is false, you know, the caliphate isn’t a paradise — there’s no plumbing, there’s no electricity, there’s no Internet access.”
The center employs some 20 full-time staff, mostly Emiratis. Rashad Hussain, the U.S. special envoy and coordinator for strategic counter-terrorism communications, said the Emiratis are the ones “taking the lead on the cost” of the center.
Overtime, the Sawab Center will expand to welcome other partners in the 63 country Coalition, the U.S. State Department said in a statement. It also hopes people, organizations and businesses throughout the world will join in to challenge Daesh’s doctrines of hate and intolerance.