London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, will target the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) online recruiters in a new campaign beginning July 1, the agency has said.
A Europol spokesperson told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday the agency would be monitoring between 45,000–50,000 Twitter accounts linked with the extremist group.
The team that has been assembled for the campaign—which includes Arabic-, Turkish-, and Farsi-speaking agents—will concentrate on a number of known ISIS recruiters, or “ringleaders.”
The agency is aiming to close down the accounts, which together are estimated to produce over 100,000 tweets per day aiming to recruit young people to join ISIS from across the world, within two hours of their being intercepted.
The UN says the number of people joining terrorist groups including ISIS spiked 71 percent since mid-last year, around the same time when ISIS declared a “caliphate” following its capture of Mosul in Iraq, calling on Muslims from across the world to join the group.
The extremist group now holds territory across both Iraq and Syria, with recent gains in the latter made during the last months increasing its hold over Syrian territory to approximately 50 percent of the country’s landmass according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
ISIS has now become infamous for using social media as an online recruiting tool, as well as producing slick propaganda videos and publications such as Dabiq, a magazine the group publishes which began circulating in July of 2014.
Europol’s director Rob Wainwright told the London-based Guardian newspaper the agency believes up to 5,000 people have traveled to ISIS-held territory in Iraq and Syria from European countries including the UK, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. A total of 700 are believed to have traveled from the UK alone.