According to Julian King, the EU’s commissioner for the security union, the Islamic State is still “very much a problem” because this terrorist organization that once had under its control extensive areas in Syria and Iraq, us still continuing to publish hate and terror content online.
Despite the fact that this militant organization has faced some serious set backs in its operations and in its global presence and influence on ground, the internet is still being continuously exploited by it for promoting its terror ideology and strategies, King said.
“When it comes to terrorism content online there are specific organizations, most notably but not uniquely ISIS, al-Qaeda is also trying to use the digital space,” King said during a television interview to news channel CNBC at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.
For quite some years, disenfranchised young people in the West were coaxed and persuaded to leave their home counties and join the ISI to fight for its cause in the Middle East by its online propaganda material by ISIS. A large number of major and minor terrorist attacks in the West had been perpetrated or organized by such people who had been influenced by ISIS ideologies.
“Now, they’ve suffered reversals on the ground in Iraq and Syria, but they’re still producing material, they still use the internet to traffic their propaganda and their radicalizing material,” King said. “So it remains very much a problem that we need to deal with today.”
Homegrown individuals from the West and not those who have travelled and joined ISIS in the Middle East and come back to their home country, had been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks that were targeted in Europe, King added. For example, the suicide bomb attack which was perpetrated at an Ariana Grande concert in the northern English city of Manchester and in which 23 people were killed – which also included i\the lone terrorist Salman Abedi, last year, was openly claimed by ISIS to have been orchestrated by them.
“We … have to face the fact that in Europe, at least, over the last couple of years, 18 months, the attacks weren’t carried about by individuals who had traveled to Iraq or Syria and then came back,” King said.
“They were carried out by self-radicalized individuals who had never traveled. Some were radicalized in their own communities; some were radicalized in their own bedrooms, which is why this problem of the radicalizing effect of online terrorist content is so important.”
ISIS was set up in 2013 as a caliphate that propagated implementation of strict Muslin laws and once had under its control vast areas in Iraq and Syria as well as some regions in other parts of the Middle East and Africa. The world took notice of the terrorist organization after it made use of the internet and certain media outlets to propagate its acts of beheading of Western hostages by its fighters through videos in 2014. U.S. journalist James Foley and British aid worker Alan Henning were some of the high profile hostage killings by the group.
However, sustained military action against it resulted in the group losing its control over the Iraqi city of Mosul last year and as recently as December o f2017, the US military claimed that the terrorist organization had lost out on about 98 per cent of the area that it once controlled.
(Adapted form CNBC.com)