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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm boy is only Para-Nordic athlete at BC Winter games

Thirteen-year-old Kaden Baum competed in three races on his sit-ski at the games.

Home loss ends season for Sicamous Eagles

A defeat at the hands of the 100 Mile House Wranglers on Feb. 22 was the Eagles’ last outing.

PHOTOS: PeeWee Silverbacks finish season with 22 game win streak

The team has gone undefeated since November last year

Word on the street: What is your favourite pie-related memory?

With the 24th-annual Best of the Shuswap Pie Baking Contest taking place… Continue reading

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Kelowna Firefighters douse suspicious hedge fire

A 30’ section of cedar hedge burned prompting an RCMP investigation.

Kelowna RCMP make arrest in fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Elijah Beauregard

An 18-year-old woman is in police custody facing a manslughter charge.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read