FILE - In this Jan.23 2018 file photo, a French solider watches code lines on his computer at the French Defense ministry stand during the International Cybersecurity forum in Lille, northern France. Police in Europe and North America have seized servers and data from Islamic State propaganda outlets in a multi-country operation aimed at tracking down radicals and crimping the group’s ability to spread its violent message. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, File)

Servers used by Islamic State propaganda sites seized in Canada

Europe and U.S. also part of two-day operation aimed at tracking down radicals

Police in Europe, the United States and Canada have seized servers and data from Islamic State propaganda outlets in a multi-country operation aimed at tracking down radicals and crimping the group’s ability to spread its violent message.

The two-day operation was the culmination of efforts started in late 2015, after co-ordinated IS attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, according to a statement from European police agency Europol.

RELATED: Two killed, dozen hurt in French supermarket hostage-taking

Police notably targeted the IS-branded Aamaq news agency, as well as al-Bayan radio, and Halumu and Nasher news sites.

Aamaq spreads information online in at least nine languages and has been used to claim IS was behind attacks in multiple countries, from the 2016 nightclub attack in Florida to a deadly supermarket hostage-taking in southern France last month.

The operation was led by Belgian prosecutors and also involved authorities in the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Romania.

While Europol said the operation “punched a big hole in the capability of IS to spread propaganda online and radicalize young people in Europe,” it didn’t shut down the propaganda altogether.

For example, Nasher continued to share IS statements and Aamaq reports Friday through channels on encrypted messaging network Telegram.

Related: ISIS takes responsibility for Barcelona terror attack

The Islamic State group has used sophisticated and ever-changing communications tools to spread its apocalyptic message to disillusioned Muslims living in the West, to persuade them to reject Western ideals of pluralism and tolerance. High-quality videos, complete with thrumming beats and slick editing techniques, have unlimited reach thanks to social networks. Extremists with gentle American accents narrate radio broadcasts aimed at U.S. internet users.

European authorities involved in the operation Wednesday and Thursday said it showed the importance of international co-operation in fighting online radicalization, which has helped fuel deadly attacks in multiple countries in Europe and the U.S.

It aimed “to destabilize this apparatus by seizing and dismantling servers used to diffuse IS propaganda and to identify and arrest its administrators,” the Belgian public prosecutor’s office said.

Two prior international police operations, notably targeting Aamaq’s mobile app and web infrastructure, paved the way for this week’s raids. One led by Spain’s Civil Guard that seized servers in Panama allowed authorities to identify radicals in 133 countries via their interaction with IS propaganda, according to Europol and a Civil Guard statement.

The operation came as more than 70 countries vowed to bolster efforts to stop financing for IS and al-Qaida. Participants at an international conference in Paris on Thursday promised to improve international co-ordination and transparency of money flows.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Comox Valley teen with autism a spectacular guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in Port Alice exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Seventh annual Campagnolo Lecture coming to Courtenay

Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould to speak

School for students on Hornby Island ‘normal as can be’: portables expected in new year

While it’s not an ideal situation, the return to school for students… Continue reading

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

Spencer O’Brien part of Indigenous Sport Gallery

Olympic snowboarder included in Hall of Fame exhibit

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Tilray Inc sees $10-billion in market cap go up in smoke

Tilray’s share price closed at $123 US on Friday, a decline from its intraday peak of nearly $300 US earlier in the week

Most Read