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US, UAE Launch Sawab Center to Counter IS Message



The United States and United Arab Emirates launched a joint effort Wednesday to counter the Islamic State militants on social media.

The Sawab Center, based in Abu Dhabi, uses social media to confront the militants’ efforts to recruit members. It also presents “moderate and tolerant voices from across the region.”

The Arabic word “sawab,” means “right” or “correct” -- as in, “the right path.” The center has sent messages on Twitter and posted a YouTube video saying the Islamic State is changing the meaning of Islam to spread hate, fear, and intolerance.

Richard Stengel is the U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. In an interview with Alhurra, Mr. Stengel says the Sawab Center aims to use information to prevent people from joining the Islamic State.

"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. 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."

Mr. Stengel says the center hopes to “take offline” those who are using social media to recruit new members for IS.

The U.S.-led coalition has launched more than 5,000 airstrikes against the Islamic State in the past year. But the goals are to stop the flow of new foreign fighters and cutting off funding to the militant group.

The under-secretary said the coalition of more than 60 nations is seeing some success. But he also said that the fight against IS and terrorism in general is a “generational struggle,” - one that will not be won quickly. He adds that,

"I think it's not realistic to say that any form of terrorism will go away, or that any manifestation of Daesh or ISIL will go away, but as an acute threat, as an existential threat, as an expanding threat, that will be reversed and it already is being reversed.”

I’m Jim Tedder.

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Words in This Story

counter – v. to do something in defense or in response to something

tolerant – n. willing to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own

funding - n. an amount of something that is available for use

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