Coping with Coronavirus Series
Terrorism in the Time of Coronavirus
Date: 31 March 2020
Online: Zoom Platform
Online Streaming Available here
The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has affected every strata of our societies and will likely transform our lives for the times ahead. While the health and economic effects of the COVID-19 are — for obvious reasons — at the centre of public attention, less attention is paid to the impact on security, particularly the effect on terrorist actors and their behaviour. From the extreme right to the extreme left, religious fundamentalists to apocalyptical movements coronavirus is generating an effect. We have already seen a spike in hateful rhetoric, conspiracy theories and disinformation that seek to further erode trust between citizens and their governments, exacerbate social divisions and sometimes incite violence. So, what is next?
With national resources and public attention largely directed at efforts to contain COVID-19, the current situation of panic and fear is prone to exploitation by nefarious non-state actors that seek to advance their own agendas and undermine the system even further. In doing so, such groups often reinforce each others’ narratives and accelerate actions. At the same time, the pandemic might act as a trigger for violent actions in the name of a metaphysical deity. It is therefore important to address such issues in advance.
Against this backdrop, we organised the second eRoundtable from our ‘Coping with Coronavirus’ series, titled: ‘Terrorism in the Time of Coronavirus,’ which was held via Zoom platform on Tuesday, 31 March 2020 from 11:00 to 12:30 (CET).
Discussion focused on the impact of Coronavirus on terrorist groups’ and behaviour. Some questions to be answered by the experts will include:
• How does the Coronavirus pandemic affect terrorist groups?
• How are terrorist groups adapting?
• What are some of the ways they are exploiting the crisis?
• What can we expect in the future?
• Will there be a spike in extremism as a result of this pandemic?
• Are there some long-term impact of the pandemic in the field of terrorism?
Caroline Varin — Senior Lecturer in Security and International Organisations at Regent's University London, Director and Co-founder of Professors Without Borders (Prowibo)
Peter R. Neumann — Senior Fellow, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), London, United Kingdom
Yan St-Pierre — CEO and Counter-Terrorism Advisor, Modern Security Consulting Group (MOSECON), Berlin, Germany
Mitchell Belfer — President, Euro-Gulf Information Centre (EGIC), Rome, Italy
This discussion was moderated by Sofia Barbarani — Freelance Journalist, Conflict and Humanitarian Reporting in the Middle East