Jihadi propaganda describing how to launch a van attack was still available on Wikipedia last night – as it became the latest internet giant to be accused of aiding terrorism.
In the days before and hours after Thursday’s attack in Barcelona, the online encyclopaedia provided links to dozens of Islamic State and Al Qaeda magazines.
One IS publication encouraged would-be terrorists to use a hire vehicle to attack public places because they are ‘successful in harvesting large numbers of kuffar [non-believers]’.
It comes just two months after Theresa May announced that internet giants which refuse to take down ‘poisonous propaganda’ could face multi-million pound fines.
The immediate aftermath of the Barcelona terror attack showing a victim on the ground
A woman places flowers on a memorial after a van attack that killed at least 13 in Barcelona. Police shot and killed five people carrying bomb belts who were connected to the attack
Jihadi materila was still available on Wikipedia last night after at least 14 people lost their lives in van attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils
Until now, Wikipedia has largely avoided the spotlight. But the Daily Mail can reveal that the online encyclopaedia allowed links to official literature from two of the world’s most feared terror groups to be uploaded just 12 days ago.
Vile material still available on the site yesterday included an article published just six days ago from Al Qaeda’s ‘official’ magazine, which praised ‘lone jihadis’ including Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood.
Another link was to an IS magazine encouraging vehicle attacks akin to Thursday’s rampage. Since the magazine’s publication in November, similar links have also appeared on Google, Facebook and Twitter.
However, Facebook and Twitter removed the links when contacted by the Mail in March. Some links to the material remain on Google for academic reasons.
Wikipedia’s pages can be written and edited by any member of the public but it is said to be moderated by around 130,000 ‘editors’. However the potential ease in accessing the propaganda was yesterday met with astonishment by MPs.
Tory MP Charlie Elphicke said it was ‘incredible’ that Wikipedia was making this material available.
‘They need to take urgent action to make sure it is removed,’ he said. ‘This highlights the importance of the attempts of companies like Facebook, YouTube and now Wikipedia to be vigilant before taking firm action against material that aids terrorists.’
Dr Hany Farid, an adviser to the Counter Extremism Project think-tank, said: ‘We are seeing real harm which is a direct result of the failure of internet companies to act. Wikipedia and others absolutely have the ability to root out and squash this material.’
Inflammatory extremist material was also available on YouTube in the days before the Barcelona attack, the Mail can reveal. One video, posted on August 14, features a jihadi telling the camera: ‘Liberate yourself by killing a kuffar.’ In the wake of Thursday’s attack the videos had been removed.
Wikipedia did not respond to requests for comment last night. However in a discussion section on the Wikipedia page containing links to IS magazines, the firm says it is part of a project ‘to improve coverage of Islam-related articles’ on its site.