Europol: Coronavirus lockdown could fuel the radicalization of terrorists
The European Union’s law enforcement agency is warning that lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic could radicalize terror suspects of all ideologies.
Europol’s latest terrorism trends report on Tuesday emphasized the impact that the pandemic could have on exacerbating the discontent of radicalized individuals. The report also found that jihadist groups as well as both right- and left-wing extremist groups might capitalize on the social upheaval.
“These developments have the potential to further fuel the radicalization of some individuals, regardless of their ideological persuasion,” said Europol Director Catherine De Bolle in the report, according to Agence France-Presse.
“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,” she added.
Europol found that in 2019, there were 26 anarchist or left-wing attacks in Europe, primarily in Greece, Italy, and Spain. That number is similar to 2017 but an increase from 2018.
Europol also warned of an uptick in right-wing violence. The EU reported six right-wing attacks in 2019.
“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 also said that while Islamist-inspired attacks in Europe have decreased, that was due in large part to law enforcement. Europol said there were seven “completed or failed” terrorist attacks related to Islamist extremism last year.
In May, Spanish police, with the help of the FBI, arrested a Moroccan man they say was planning acts of terrorism during the coronavirus lockdown. Officials said at the time that although the suspect had previous ties to the Islamic State, he had kept largely off the radar until they noticed a “striking and worrying” change in his behavior since the country began lockdown in March.
Source: Washington Examiner