ISIS servers seized in Canada as countries launch coordinated takedown of propaganda network
Internet servers linked to the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) have been seized in Canada as part of a multinational takedown of the terrorist group’s propaganda network, Europol said Friday.
Canada joined with the European Union and United States in the coordinated police action that targeted the ISIS mouthpiece Amaq, Europol said in a statement.
The ISIS-branded al-Bayan radio and Nashir News were also targets.
The raids took place Wednesday and Thursday, Europol said, adding the operation had resulted in “the seizure of IS servers” in the Netherlands, Canada and U.S.
“With this groundbreaking operation we have punched a big hole in the capability of IS to spread propaganda online and radicalize young people in Europe,” said Europol executive director Rob Wainwright.
No arrests were made in Canada.
The RCMP and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office responded to questions about Canada’s role in the investigation with a statement that contained no information about the case.
“As this relates to an ongoing law enforcement operation, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further,” an RCMP spokesperson said.
Since arising in Syria and Iraq in 2014, ISIS has made heavy use of online propaganda, producing slick videos and graphics to spread its message of violence and incite terrorist attacks.
The main ISIS propaganda outlet, Amaq distributes the terrorist group’s claims of responsibility for attacks as well as many of its threats and calls to violence.
European police struck Amaq’s mobile application and web infrastructure in August 2016, but the group responded by building “a more complex and secure infrastructure to prevent further disruption,” Europol said.
The Spanish Guardia Civil led a second strike in June 2017, seizing servers that identified “radicalized individuals” in more than 100 countries.
ISIS has now lost much of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria and the international police push was aimed at shrinking its online presence as well.
“For too long the Internet has been open to terrorists and those who seek to do us harm,” said Julian King, a commissioner in the European Commission. “Those days are coming to an end.”
Canadian extremists have long played a role in terrorist propaganda.
In 2010, Said Namouh, a Quebec-based member of the Al Qaeda propaganda outfit the Global Islamic Media Front was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Canadians are also believed to have joined the ISIS propaganda network, Andrew Ellis, a former senior Canadian Security Intelligence Service official, said in a 2016 speech in Toronto.
“I would argue that would be equally as dangerous, maybe more, than someone who is joining the military wing. A lot of these young Western adherents to Daesh are put on the frontlines and die very quickly. Someone who is working in the propaganda wing can hurt us over and over and over again,” he said, using another name for ISIS.
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