European Union police action has 'punched big hole in ISIL propaganda'


The head of Europol, Rob Wainwright, said: "With this ground-breaking operation we have punched a big hole in the capability of IS to spread propaganda online and radicalise young people in Europe".

A joint operation to tackle the Daesh* propaganda machine was launched on April 25, 2018 by the law enforcement authorities of the European Union Member States, Canada and the U.S. and coordinated by the European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) within the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) at the Europol headquarters.

Europol co-ordinated this week's two-day "simultaneous multinational takedown" which saw Isis's so-called news agency, Al-Amaq, knocked off the internet, along with other extremist media outlets.

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The terror group also used Amaq to claim responsibility for the supermarket siege in Trebes, France in March.

The agency said in a statement that the operation, led by Belgian prosecutors and involving teams from Bulgaria, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Romania, the United Kingdom and the USA, was aimed at severely disrupting the propaganda flow of Isis, hampering its ability to broadcast terrorist material for an undetermined period of time. "I applaud the determined and innovative work by Europol and its partners to target a major part of the global terrorist threat prevalent in Europe today", said Rob Wainwright, Executive Director of Europol.

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Europol began warning about the rise of Amaq in late 2015, stressing "the technical resilience of the terrorist online infrastructure".

It was officially endorsed by the terrorist organisation in July 2017 and has since become the primary source of information regarding the remaining activities of IS worldwide, according to Europol.

The UK's Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit led the process of identifying and referring web domains that had been exploited by IS jihadists, Europol said.

A previous takedown effort against Amaq's web infrastructure proved successful in 2016, leading the media outlet to develop a more secure infrastructure.

"We will not stop until their propaganda is entirely eradicated from the Internet".

Digital evidence and servers were seized as a result of the strike and officers expect data retrieved to help identify administrators behind IS media outlets and potentially radicalised individuals around Europe.