Coronavirus lockdowns could lead to increase in terror attacks as extremists become radicalised

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Coronavirus lockdowns could lead to increase in terror attacks as isolated extremists become radicalised, Europol warn

  • Warning came from Europol director Catherine De Bolle in a report
  • Report argues the impact of coronavirus lockdown could fuel terrorism
  • Economic and social impacts of lockdown could escalate existing discontents 
  • Comes after British police officer said lockdown could fuel terrorism because people spending more time online 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Coronavirus lockdowns could radicalise more terror suspects, the EU’s police agency warned Tuesday, saying both right and leftwing violence were on the rise.

Europol director Catherine De Bolle said as she unveiled the organisation’s latest terrorism trends report that the pandemic’s worldwide economic and social impacts could escalate existing discontents.

‘These developments have the potential to further fuel the radicalisation of some individuals, regardless of their ideological persuasion,’ De Bolle said in the report.

The report builds on a similar warning from a senior British police officer who said the lockdown may have led to more people becoming radicalised because they are spending more time online.   

Coronavirus lockdowns could radicalise more terror suspects, the EU’s police agency warned Tuesday, saying both right and leftwing violence were on the rise. Europol director Catherine De Bolle said the pandemic’s worldwide economic and social impacts could escalate existing discontents

‘Activists both on the extreme left and right and those involved in jihadist terrorism attempt to seize the opportunity the pandemic has created to further propagate their aims,’ Ms De Bolle added. 

The report said Islamist terror attacks in Europe had decreased, mainly due to better law enforcement, with only seven ‘completed or failed’ jihadist attacks in 2019.

However Europol warned of an increase in attacks by right-wing extremists, partly inspired by attacks such as the 2019 attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.

‘While many right-wing extremist groups across the EU have not resorted to violence, they contribute to a climate of fear and animosity against minority groups,’ De Bolle said.

The report builds on a similar warning from a senior British police officer who said the lockdown may have led to more people becoming radicalised because they are spending more time online. Pictured: File photo

The report builds on a similar warning from a senior British police officer who said the lockdown may have led to more people becoming radicalised because they are spending more time online. Pictured: File photo

‘Such a climate, built on xenophobia, hatred for Jews and Muslims and anti-immigration sentiments, may lower the threshold for some radicalised individuals to use violence against people’.

Last year three EU member states reported a total of six right-wing attacks of which one was completed, as opposed to only one the year before.

One of the worst attacks was the shooting at a synagogue in the Germany city of Halle last October in which two people were killed.

There were 26 leftwing and anarchist attacks in Europe, mainly in Italy, Greece and Spain – a similar number to two years ago after a drop in 2018.

'Activists both on the extreme left and right and those involved in jihadist terrorism attempt to seize the opportunity the pandemic has created to further propagate their aims,' Ms De Bolle added

‘Activists both on the extreme left and right and those involved in jihadist terrorism attempt to seize the opportunity the pandemic has created to further propagate their aims,’ Ms De Bolle added

But the number of arrests on suspicion of leftwing or anarchist terrorist offences more than tripled, compared to previous years, Europol added, with the majority linked to violent demonstrations and confrontations with Italian police.

Earlier this month the Metropolitan Police’s Lucy D’Orsi said the impact of coronavirus on the threat of terrorism in the UK was not yet known.

But she did say people have spent more time online in lockdown, and the internet has increaisingly been used as a tool of radicalisation in recent years.   

‘The reality is that the threat has not gone away,’ Assistant Commissioner D’Orsi told the BBC. 

She also expressed that as the lockdown eases, terrorists will be seeking to make an impact.   



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