EU, Canada, US launch operation to disrupt propaganda apparatus

  • EU, Canada, US launch operation to disrupt propaganda apparatus

EU, Canada, US launch operation to disrupt propaganda apparatus

A joint operation by European and US law enforcement has hit the propaganda machine of the Islamic State (IS) and hindered the terrorist group's capacity to spread radicalization online, Europol said on Friday.

The coordinated effort took place Wednesday and Thursday in Bulgaria, France, Romania, the Netherlands, the USA and Canada.

Police are hopeful that the data retrieved will help to identify the administrators behind IS media outlets on European soil and across the world.

Initially posing as a legitimate news organisation, Amaq was officially endorsed by IS in July 2017 and has been used by the group to claim a raft of terrorist attacks in the Middle East and beyond, including in Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Barcelona.

Canada joined with the European Union and the United States in the coordinated police action that targeted the ISIS mouthpiece Amaq, Europol said in a statement released Friday.

Europol began warning about the rise of Amaq in late 2015, stressing "the technical resilience of the terrorist online infrastructure". The servers seized allowed for the identification of radicalized individuals in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Europol said Amaq has developed resilient hosting for its online activities and that the entire range of ISIL propaganda was available in at least nine different languages.

Some of the Islamic State's most prominent propaganda websites have been hit by a coordinated cyber strike by European countries, in an attempt to curb the terror group's online influence. Meanwhile, Britain took the lead in the referral process of top-level domain registrars abused by IS. "It has become the first point of publication for claims of responsibility by the group - though not as a rule", researcher and terrorist expert Charlie Winter told The New York Times in 2016.

Following the latest operation, European commissioner for security Sir Julian King said: "This shows that by working together we can stamp out the poisonous propaganda Daesh has used to fuel numerous recent terror attacks in Europe. For too long the internet has been open to terrorists and those who seek to do us harm: those days are coming to an end thanks to this type of co-ordinated global work".