Europol has issued the third edition of its annual report on Online Jihadist Propaganda, which provides an analysis of ‘the major trends and developments in online propaganda of the most prominent jihadist organizations for the year 2020’.
Focusing on the Islamic State and al-Qaeda as well as their offshoots, the report addresses the trajectories of these groups, and how they have responded to shifting dynamics and attempted to overcome setbacks.
The report says that 2020 ‘was a critical moment in the evolution of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Both these jihadist terrorist groups faced major blows, and had to adapt to shifting realities to survive and stay relevant. The risk of online jihadist propaganda being translated into offline violence remains high, as propaganda from both groups continues to call for lone actor attacks by individuals who have no physical connections to either group.’
Headlines from the report include:
- Under new leadership, Islamic State (IS) displays increasing insurgent activity in its traditional heartlands and continuous global reach.
- IS is focused on attempting a resurgence in Iraq and expanding its international presence by further empowering its global network of affiliates.
- The group’s propaganda highlighted the importance of Africa to the overall IS project.
- Al-Qaeda continues to capitalise on current events to advance its ideological leanings, which are presented as ‘less extreme’ in comparison with IS.
- Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is keen to demonstrate that it is still capable of mounting external operations, even if events seem to suggest a decline in abilities on the ground.
- Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and JNIM have shown that they intend to engage in negotiations with local governments, following the Taliban approach.