Terrorist groups using Covid-19 to reinforce power and influence, says Interpol

By Sumit Kumar Singh
New Delhi/Lyon, Dec 22 (IANS)
Terrorist groups are using the Coronavirus pandemic to reinforce power and influence, international criminal police organisation Interpol said on Tuesday. After Interpol released a report, intelligence and security establishments in India are on their toes to check the activities of terrorist groups.
Interpol released a report which focuses on impact of Covid-19 on global terrorism, trends and potential risks related to attacks on vulnerable targets and bioterrorism.
The assessment takes into consideration the following five main threat factors: Covid-19 outbreak characteristics and medical advances, global or national response, social climate, resilience of the security apparatus and strategies and capabilities of terrorists and other non-state actors.
“As Covid-19 cases subside in some regions and surge in others, the report underlines the critical need to monitor the reaction and response by terrorist networks, violent extremist groups, and other potentially dangerous non-state actors,” Interpol stated.
Interpol, which enables the police in 194 member countries to work together to fight international crime, said that early in the pandemic, certain terrorist groups and other non-state actors used the pandemic to reinforce their power and influence, particularly among local populations, or to expand their external financial resources.
The report also highlights how the impact of Covid-19 on the global economy is likely to indirectly affect funding available to terrorist organisations.
“Terrorists – like all criminals – have sought to profit from Covid-19, to make money, strengthen their base and to fuel division,” J�rgen Stock, Interpol Secretary General said.
“Our terrorism assessment report is another tool to help law enforcement identify and address these evolving threats, in what continue to be challenging circumstances,” added Secretary General Stock.
The use of disinformation and conspiracy theories also appears as a common denominator across all idealistic spectrums, and as an indicator of prevailing threats against priority targets.
The presence of far-right supporters in anti-Covid-19 activities in a growing number of western countries illustrates attempts to use the pandemic to exploit divisions.
“Law enforcement will continue to face attempts by far-right violent extremists to radicalise social movements, such as clashing with far-left groups and/or provoking the use of force,” the Interpol stated.
The report also underscores how the recurring reinstatement of restrictive measures is likely to sustain a degree of civil unrest as well as impact on the choice of timing and targets for terrorist acts.
The report includes recommendations and early-warning signs for the global law enforcement community to monitor in addressing these threats.
A senior IPS officer based in Delhi said that they are looking into the report thoroughly and will keep an eye on activities of the terror outfits.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)

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