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Terrorist groups must be stopped from promoting themselves on the web, conference told

Europe must prepare for Islamic State backlash as territory is lost

Barring terrorist groups from promoting their activities through various online platforms is crucial in the fight against the Islamic State , Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela said this afternoon.

Addressing a two-day regional workshop for counter terrorism practitioners at the Old University in Valletta, Mr Abela noted that last week the matter was raised in a meeting he had with representatives of key internet companies Google, Facebook and Twitter.

The talks which were held in Silicon Valley, in the US, were held as part of an EU delegation visit led by European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The visit was organised to follow up on the last meeting of the EU Internet Forum, held last December, and to take forward actions agreed for 2017. The EU Internet Forum was established in December 2015 to discuss the challenges posed by terrorists’ use of the internet, improve understanding of one another's capability and limitations, and identify areas for future co-operation.

The meetings with the US internet companies’ executives, focused on the need to ensure progress under the two key objectives of the EU Internet Forum, the home affairs minister said.

These are barring accessibility to terrorist content online, and empowering civil society partners to increase the volume of effective alternative narratives online.
In his address, Mr Abela referred to the establishment of ISIS as a “game changer” while noting that its highly proficient propaganda had been instrumental in the radicalisation of people.

He said that an estimated 4,000 EU nationals have joined terrorist organisations in countries experiencing conflict such as Syria and Iraq. The majority of the terrorist suspects implicated in the most recent terrorist attacks in the EU were European citizens, born and raised in Europe, Mr Abela remarked.

Referring to the current situation in Iraq and Syria where IS have lost key strongholds, he said Europe must be prepared for a possible backlash.

On the other hand, he cautioned against getting carried away by terrorist propaganda, saying the solution was to tackle the root causes behind the radicalisation by terrorist organisations.

The two-day workshop is being organised by the US State Department in collaboration with the International Institute of Justice.

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