Data Breach News

Infrastructure Of Websites Spreading Terrorist Propaganda Disrupted

Thirteen websites and scores of server infrastructure seized. Nine “radicalized individuals” behind these operations also arrested.

by Mihir Bagwe June 14th, 2024

Source: YouTube

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Europol coordinated two separate operations this week to disrupt 13 websites used in spreading terrorist propaganda online. This action followed a year-long operation involving ten law enforcement authorities across Europe.

The targeted websites were linked to Islamic State, al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and the Syria-based rebel group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

“The disrupted terrorist operated websites worked as a node and an archive for terrorist propaganda produced by the different IS [Islamic State] media outlets using a multiplatform approach.” Capt. Alberto Rodríguez Vázquez of Spain’s Guardia Civil.

Servers Taken Down in Europe and U.S.

Europol reported that servers were taken down in Germany, the Netherlands, the United States and Iceland under Operation HOPPER II. The authorities in Spain also arrested nine “radicalized individuals” from different nationalities.

Spain’s Guardia Civil led a separate operation, dubbed ALMUASASA, against media linked to the Islamic State’s I’LAM Foundation. Europol said this organization ran global communication channels, including radio stations, a news agency, and social media content.

“The network was designed to be resilient and low profile and that explains its multi-server hosting strategy. It operated both on the surface web and the dark web.” – Vázquez.

Terrorist Propaganda in 30 Languages

The organization communicated Islamic State directives and slogans in over 30 languages, including Spanish, Arabic, English, French, German, Danish, Turkish, Russian, Indonesian, and Pashto. Investigations revealed several terabytes of information, which will help law enforcement in further investigations into the terror group.

The overall terrorist threat to the European Union remains high, with jihadist terrorism being a principal concern. Europol’s operations followed the seizure of four computer servers in Romania, Ukraine, and Iceland, as part of ongoing investigations into religious and politically motivated terrorist groups.

“The servers supported multiple media outlets linked to Islamic State. They were used to disseminate worldwide propaganda and messages capable of inciting terrorism.” – Europol

According to Europol, the targeted websites enabled terrorist organizations and violent extremists to bypass the enhanced moderation and content removal efforts of mainstream online service providers. This helped them maintain a persistent online presence. The sites were used for recruitment, fundraising, inciting violence, and spreading propaganda, including manuals for creating explosives and content designed to radicalize and mobilize individuals.

Jode de la Mata Amaya, national member for Spain, Eurojust (Source: YouTube)

The investigation has also revealed important details on the financing of the terrorist networks, which will be pivotal in future combat of threats from these networks, said Jode de la Mata Amaya, national member for Spain, Eurojust.

All the 13 websites were referred for removal under European Union laws that mandate all hosting service providers remove flagged content within an hour of receiving a removal order or face penalties determined by individual member states.

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