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A Europe-wide police unit is to be set up next month with the aim of shutting down social media accounts used by key Islamic State militants to spread propaganda and recruit foreigners to their cause, Europol said on Monday.
The small police team will scour the internet and try to take down accounts of ISIS ringleaders within hours of being detected, in a bid to dent a propaganda machine which is reckoned to send out about 100,000 tweets a day.
"It's a reasonable estimate and it indicates the scale of the problem that we are up against," Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, the Hague-based police agency which will coordinate the unit, told BBC radio.
Up to 5,000 people from Western Europe are thought to have traveled to Syria and Iraq, many to join Islamic State, causing widespread concern among European states that their citizens could return radicalized and ready to carry out attacks at home.
The new police unit, initially made up of about 10-20 officers from across Europe, will work with unnamed social media companies to target the accounts used by prominent ISIS figures in multiple languages.