Police from the EU, Canada and the US have carried out a takedown of the main mouthpieces of the jihadi group "Islamic State." The Amaq news agency was a major target of the operation.
International law enforcement agencies have targeted various media outlets and infrastructure operated by the extremist group "Islamic State" (IS) to make it more difficult for it to spread propaganda and gain recruits, the European police agency Europol said on Friday.
The two-day operation involving authorities from several EU countries, Canada and the US was launched on Wednesday as the last stage of a campaign first started in 2015 to hinder the group in its dissemination of terrorist material.
"With this ground-breaking operation, we have punched a big hole in the capability of IS to spread propaganda online and radicalize young people in Europe," said Rob Wainwright, the head of Interpol.
The coordinated action particularly targeted the Amaq news agency, which has been used by the jihadis since 2016 to claim attacks and spread propaganda, but also tackled other outlets associated with IS.
Digital evidence collected
"With this takedown action, targeting major IS-branded media outlets like Amaq, but also al-Bayan radio, Halumu and Nashir news, IS's capability to broadcast and publicize terrorist material has been compromised," Europol said in a statement.
The statement said the "simultaneous multinational takedown" was coordinated via Europol's headquarters in The Hague, with the assistance of Eurojust — the EU agency for judicial cooperation in criminal matters — and the Belgian federal prosecutor.
It said digital evidence seized in the operation could help identify the administrators of the outlets and radicalized individuals in a number of countries in Europe and elsewhere.
The action, which involved authorities from Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Romania, the United Kingdom and the US, was the third internationally coordinated operation to take down Amaq's web assets and infrastructure.
Julian King, who holds the Security Union portfolio in the European Commission, said it showed "that by working together we can stamp out the poisonous propaganda Daesh has used to fuel many of the recent terror attacks in Europe," using an alternative Arabic name for the jihadi group.