ALESSANDRA DALY JOHNSON WRITES – A new social media war has begun. On July 8, the United States and United Arab Emirates announced the launch of an information warfare center to combat the ‘slick’ social media presence of the Islamic State (known also as IS or Daesh).

In a press release from the US government, The Sawab Center is described as, “the first-ever multinational online messaging and engagement program” that “will increase the intensity of online debate by presenting moderate and tolerant voices from across the region.”

IS first became a household name in 2014 upon taking control of various territories in Syria and Iraq. They are a jihadist group that declared the establishment of “a state governed in accordance with Islamic law, or Sharia,” where there must be an unwavering acceptance of their leader Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri al-Samarrai.

IS has used technology and media to convey their message of violent extremism. In February, CNN reported on the release of a video that showed a “turning point” in IS’ approach to media. The video was “highly orchestrated, [and] shot from multiple camera angles.”

Both the Internet and social media have been powerful tools utilized by IS, but the Sawab Center is now using those same tools to send messages of acceptance. The goal of the center is to reach individuals that are at risk for supporting the radical ideas of IS and instead showing these individuals a community of moderate Muslims. Vice News reports that the center is also, “working to share stories of ‘ex-radicals’ and draw attention to Muslim victims of IS violence.” The Sawab Center will hopefully give a voice to the majority: those who reject the vision and message of IS.

Below is a video released by the Sawab Center.