Major Belgian cyberattack eliminates Islamic State’s presence on the internet
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Major Belgian cyberattack eliminates Islamic State’s presence on the internet

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A cyberattack eliminated the presence of the terrorist group Islamic State on the Internet by deactivating 26,000 accounts on social networks, websites and communication channels, according to the Belgian police.

The attack lasted from last Thursday to Sunday and was launched on the servers of Amaq, a propaganda agency linked to the terrorist group, under Belgian leadership, in collaboration with Europol, and the support from Eurojust.

The attack eliminated the group’s presence from the internet, according to Eric Van Der Sypt, of the Belgian Federal prosecutor’s office. “We will see how long it takes them to get back,” he added on Monday at a press conference in The Hague, reports BX1.

During the cyberattack, a total of 26,000 accounts on social networks, websites and communication channels have been deactivated. However, the numbers are not definitive yet, as investigations are still ongoing, according to Patrick Willockx of the Federal Police, reports VRT NWS. Both public and private companies were dismantled, with the cooperation of judicial authorities and police of the EU member states and Europol.

The international collaboration was “essential” to bring “tangible results” in the fight against terrorism, according to Van Der Sypt. “The terrorist group is not only fighting in the field but also waging a major battle on the Internet,” he said, adding that online propaganda allows the radicalisation of European citizens and the facilitation and demand for attacks like the one in Belgium.

Last week’s attack was a follow-up to a previous cyberattack against Amaq’s servers that was carried out in 2018. However, accounts and websites had been reactivated relatively quickly then.

“As far as we know, the Islamic State group is no longer active on the Internet at the moment, but it remains to be seen if and how fast it will be back again,” Van Der Sypt added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times