Europol disrupts Islamic State propaganda machine

A massive purge of Islamic State (IS) accounts on the messaging app Telegram – the main platform used by the group – has resulted in serious disruption of its propaganda distribution online.

EU crime agency Europol said in a press release on 22 November that a concentrated day of action had meant “a significant portion of key actors within the IS network on Telegram” had been “pushed away from the platform”.

The statement provided no statistics, but Telegram itself said that 2,096 “terrorist accounts and bots” had been taken down on 22 November and 2,959 the following day – compared to a daily average of 200-300 takedowns.

That number was lower than a similar spike in takedowns on 6 December 2018, when 3,276 accounts and bots were disabled in a single day, according to Telegram’s statistics. Europol did not claim to have been involved in that action.

Europol previously claimed to have compromised the propaganda distribution capability of IS during another co-ordinated day of action in April 2018.

But the impact of the disruption appeared to be far greater this time than either the April or December 2018 events, heavily targeting the distribution network of the IS-affiliated Nashir News Agency, which publishes the group’s official propaganda.

The action has also affected accounts on Telegram linked with, or supportive of, al-Qaeda, as well as other jihadist figures active on…

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