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EU police action has ‘punched big hole in ISIL propaganda’

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EU police action has ‘punched big hole in ISIL propaganda’

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European police chiefs say they have helped “punched a big hole” in ISIL’s propaganda machine.

They worked with the US and Canada to take down servers and seize digital evidence, according to Europol.

Rob Wainwright, head of the EU police agency, claimed it dealt a blow to ISIL’s ability to radicalise young Europeans.

The action — which involved forces from France, UK, Bulgaria, Romania, the Netherlands and Belgium — was focused on Amaq News Agency, one of the jihadist group's main propaganda outlets.

The ISIL mouthpiece was used to claim attacks in Paris, Brussels, Barcelona and Berlin.

Europol said Amaq has developed resilient hosting for its online activities and that the entire range of ISIL propaganda was available in at least nine different languages.

Wainwright said: “With this ground-breaking operation we have punched a big hole in the capability of ISIL to spread propaganda online and radicalise young people in Europe.

“I applaud the determined and innovative work by Europol and its partners to target a major part of the international terrorist threat prevalent in Europe today.”

But experts have cast doubt on the operation’s impact.

Charlie Winter, an expert on radicalisation and ISIL propaganda at King’s College London, said Amaq had since published more than a dozen ‘news’ items, albeit via a different channel to normal.

Europol says police agencies have been taking down ‘web assets’ of the media outlet since 2015.

It included specific operations in August 2016 and June 2017.

The agency says it hopes that latest action — which happened on April 25 and 26 — will help to identify the administrators behind IS media outlets and potentially radicalised individuals on European soil and beyond.