Officials in the Obama Administration met with prominent figures from social media platforms, cable providers and Hollywood earlier this year to boost a nascent propaganda war against Islamic jihad, according to a report from The Daily Beast,
In June, State Department officials and counterterrorism advisors traveled to Sunnylands, a “super-exclusive vacation spot for celebrities and politicians” in Rancho Mirage, California, for the summit on how to effectively combat international “extremist” networks.
Since 2011, however, these anti-jihad propaganda efforts have been foiled by the federal insistence that jihad does not emerge from Islam. In effect, top officials are demanding that Americans must ignore the Islamic motivations for jihad, but somehow undermine Muslims’ motivation to conduct jihad by actually declaring support for Islam.
“Remember that violent extremism is not unique to any one faith,” Obama told a U.N. meeting Sept. 29. “No-one should be profiled or targeted simply because of their faith… [and] we have to commit ourselves to build diverse, tolerant, inclusive, societies that reject anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry that creates the divisions, the fear, and the resentments upon which extremists can prey.”
Overseas, however, some independent movie-makers have promoted an anti-jihad message via criticism and ridicule. For example, the British “Four Lions” movie portrayed jihadis in Britain as sociopathic morons.
Execs for HBO, Snapchat and Middle Eastern broadcaster MBC, along with Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal, who penned Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, were in attendance for the event, which followed up on a three-day summit convened by the White House in February to fight jihad with the aid of Islamic leaders in immigrant communities.
A senior State Department official told The Daily Beast, “U.S. filmmakers and social-media folks met with a bunch of international and regional filmmakers and broadcasters [at the Sunnylands estate]. We had people who were at the top of their field. The goal was to continue the dialogue started at the [White House] summit.”
Because groups such as ISIS have mastered social media, and are using Hollywood techniques for recruiting, there is an effort to teach those who have resisted Islamic terror “how to engage and empower storytellers [to] create alternative and positive narratives, and how to talk about youth empowerment,” the official told the site.
The official speaking to The Daily Beast added, “It’s the best way to provide a counter narrative to extremists.”
Hopes are that adding “positive” media to unstable regions could help counter the propaganda, which ideally could hamper terrorist recruiting efforts.
Read the full report from The Daily Beast here.