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Europol publishes review of Jihadist propaganda

Europol has published the second edition of its annual report on online Jihadist propaganda, highlighting the major trends and developments in propaganda of the most prominent Sunni jihadist organisations.

Covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2019, the review aims to analyse how these organisations have shaped their online message to respond to shifting political and operational realities and overcome setbacks. It further identifies the dominant themes exploited by the groups during this period.

Regarding ISIS, Europol says that the start of 2019 saw a dip in the release of official ISIS propaganda, accompanied by a steady dissemination of supporter-generated content and recycled material. However, throughout last year the terrorist organisation was able to leverage its regional outposts, from West Africa to the Philippines, in a number of major media campaigns that distracted from its struggles in Syria and Iraq but more importantly portrayed it as still expanding to new territories.

Nonetheless, the takedown action coordinated by EU Member States and Europol on 21 and 22 November resulted in the severe disruption of pro-ISIS accounts, channels and groups on Telegram.

The report also claims that Al-Qaeda has succeeded in strengthening its network over the years via the implementation of a ‘flexible administration’, by setting the overarching aims but delegating responsibility regarding tactics to its regional branches. Meanwhile Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham continues to pursue a jihadist agenda, but with a local focus. HTS has put significant effort in strengthening its communication strategy by multiplying the production of statements, videos, and opinion articles. In disseminating its propaganda, HTS relies on ostensibly independent institutions, both online and offline.

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