On 13 and 14 September 2017, Europol organised the sixth joint operation with Member States and Third Parties focusing on the detection and flagging of terrorist content on the internet. During the two-day event at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, Europol’s Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) teamed up with counter-terrorism and online propaganda experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Hungary.
This coordinated hit against online terrorist propaganda focused mainly on the online production of terrorist materials by IS and al-Qaeda affiliated media outlets. Among the items referred were propaganda videos, publications and glorifying or supporting terrorism and extremism.
Together they identified 1 029 pieces of content promoting terrorism on the internet. The terrorist content was referred to the online service providers with a request to review it and eventually remove it from their platforms if assessed as violating their own terms and conditions.
The following were among the key findings of the joint action:
• Jihadist organisations and their supporters continue to abuse a variety of platforms for disseminating their propaganda. However, the disruptive action undertaken by certain service providers to safeguard their platforms has led jihadist sympathisers to move to “smaller” platforms.
• As a result of systematic disruptive actions in social media, some jihadist sympathisers have reverted to the use of forums for communication and propaganda purposes. The use of Darknet libraries sharing links pointing to terrorist content in the open web is also on the rise.
• The relative decrease of “official” IS propaganda over the past months has allowed more room for pro-IS user generated content. This indicates that the so-called Islamic State organisation continues to have a solid basis of dedicated supporters in the virtual environment of the Internet.
During these action days, Europol promotes a coordinated approach to fight terrorist propaganda online, including training all law enforcement partners involved. Similar joint actions, involving Member States and Third Parties, will continue to be organised on a regular basis.