(UPI) — European authorities said Friday they, along with the United States and Canada, have crippled the Islamic State terror group’s online “propaganda machine.”
Europol said the takedown was led by the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office and involved authorities from Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Romania, Britain and the United States.
The operation disrupted the Islamic State’s capability to produce propaganda over the Internet, Europol said in a statement Friday.
Officials said the simultaneous multinational takedown, which occurred between Wednesday and Thursday, targeted the group’s Amaq News, al-Bayan radio, and Halumu and Nashir news agencies.
Amaq News, which Europol called the “main mouthpiece” of the Islamic State, has been used for years to claim terror attacks around the world — including recent large-scale attacks in Paris, Brussels, Barcelona and Berlin.
Amaq provided content in nine different languages and gave users a wide range of online services, such as mailed newsletters and add-on extensions for web browsers.
‘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,” Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright said.
Europol Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, is losing territory on both physical battlefields and the Internet.
“We will not stop until their propaganda is entirely eradicated from the Internet,” Avramopoulos said.
Authorities said data obtained by this week’s operation should help identify administrators behind the terror group’s media outlets, and potential militants.
Europol said it first began targeting the Islamic State’s online capabilities at the end of 2015, when all European Union member states were notified about the rise of the Amaq News Agency.
In August 2016, EU Member States launched their first takedown of Amaq’s mobile application and web infrastructure.