IS online activities decline in 2016: Saudi group

Riyadh, Dec 5 (IANS) A Saudi counter-terrorism campaign has reported a drastic decline in the online activities of the Islamic State militant group this year, the media reported on Monday.

The Sakina (Calmness) campaign has been monitoring IS online activities since 2014, the year that saw the highest rates of online terrorism contents by the militant group, Xinhua news agency reported.

The IS used to post audio or visual content on a daily basis in 2015, but the frequency has now dropped to about once a week.

The IS has been using social media websites to recruit members and promote its extremist ideology.

The decline in the group’s activities might be attributed to efforts of the social networks to stop posts by terrorists or terror groups, and to the fact that the IS was busy defending territories under its control in Iraq and Syria.

Sakina, a non-government campaign, was launched in 2003 amid the surfacing of extremist thoughts with the rising of Al Qaeda group back then.

It scaled up its efforts in recent years after Saudi Arabia was badly hit by IS activities through the recruiting of its youths as fighters in disturbed areas or in sleeping cells in the country that were behind many deadly blasts.

According to a report on the campaign’s website released in September, Saudi Arabia has been hit by 22 terrorist attacks since 2014 that killed 95 people and wounded dozens of civilians and police personnel. Most of the attacks, some targeting mosques, were claimed by the IS.

Members of the Sakina campaign have been active in chatrooms and on social media to respond to extremist posts and to counter misinterpretation about Islam that is circulated by the IS.