News ID: 214030
Published: 1209 GMT April 27, 2018

EU, US police cripple Daesh media mouthpieces

EU, US police cripple Daesh media mouthpieces

European and US police forces have struck at the heart of the Daesh group's propaganda machine, seizing servers and "punching a hole" in its ability to spread its radical extremist message online.

The transatlantic takedown was spread over eight countries and was coordinated by the EU's police agency in "a major operation over a two-year period", the head of Europol Rob Wainwright told AFP on Friday.

Wednesday and Thursday's operation was the latest in a campaign targeting in particular the Amaq news agency used by Daesh to broadcast claims of attacks and spread its message.

"With this takedown action, targeting major Daesh-branded media outlets like Amaq, but also Al-Bayan radio, Halumu and Nasher news,” the group’s capability to broadcast and publicize terrorist material has been compromised, Europol said in a statement.

The "simultaneous multinational takedown" was coordinated by Europol from its headquarters in The Hague, and led by the Belgian federal prosecutor.

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

Daesh used Amaq to claim "every major attack since 2015 in Europe", he said, including the deadly assaults in Paris, Brussels, Barcelona and Berlin.

Amaq was also used to claim the March supermarket siege in Trebes, France, where a 25-year-old gunman killed four people, including a policeman who took the place of a hostage.

"The technical infrastructure which allows it to put these terrible propaganda videos and messages out has been knocked offline," Wainwright told AFP, speaking on his last day as Europol chief.

But Europol's investigation is still ongoing, and arrests could follow.

Al-Bayan radio, which once broadcast on frequency mode and offered a wide range of statements, news and talks in several languages, had long moved online and reduced its activities, only offering sporadic updates.

On Friday however, Nasher news – the main Telegram account on which Amaq statements were posted in the region – remained active, claiming Daesh members had damaged three Syrian Army vehicles in the Qadam neighborhood of southern Damascus.

"We are realistic in recognizing that there still might be a retained possibility of re-establishing the network," Wainwright said, highlighting that this week's action was the third in a series of such takedowns.

"But we're getting stronger every time, and narrowing the space for them to recreate their online presence."


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