IS web media targeted in EU-led attack

image copyrightScreen grab
image captionIS has broadcast slick propaganda videos globally

The EU police agency Europol says an international operation has struck a major blow against the internet propaganda of the Islamic State group.

Cyber specialists in various European countries, Canada and the US targeted online sites including the Amaq News Agency, seen as the main IS mouthpiece.

Europol co-ordinated a "simultaneous multinational takedown" of IS media, seizing digital evidence and servers. IS jihadists may now be identified.

IS broadcasts in several languages.

The EU members involved in Europol's operation on 25-26 April were Belgium, Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, Romania and the UK.

Europol says the data retrieved is expected to help police identify the administrators behind IS media outlets and "potentially radicalised individuals".

International operations have targeted Amaq web systems previously.

Europol's head, Rob Wainwright, said the latest operation had "punched a big hole" in IS's capability to spread propaganda and radicalise young people.

media captionThe rise and fall of Islamic State's propaganda machine

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.

According to research by BBC Monitoring, the IS media operation has shrunk into a shadow of its former self, since IS was ousted from its Raqqa stronghold in Syria, in October 2017.

The IS group's video and still-picture output fell sharply in the weeks before it lost Raqqa.

BBC Monitoring also observed "the absence, or publication interruption, of two key IS media products: monthly magazine Rumiyah and al-Bayan radio".

The Europol-led operation also targeted the IS outlets Halumu and Nashir news.