The Covid-19 pandemic leaves no one unaffected, including terrorists.
European terrorist networks are torn between protecting their own members against the virus and using the pandemic to further their goals. This causes immediate and long-term effects on terrorism in Europe.
Like many state and other non-state actors, terrorist groups manipulate the global pandemic in their radical narratives. They do so to unify their followers, attract new sympathisers, and further their objectives. Daesh sees in the coronavirus "a torment sent by Allah to his enemies". China would be particularly hard-hit as punishment for its treatment of Uighur Muslims, and it is no coincidence that Iran's holy Shiite city Qom is one of the new epicentres of the outbreak. Far-right terrorists also blame their enemies hoping to radicalise others and promote their goals. They see the pandemic as a result of a biological weapon deployed by China, aimed at destroying Western powers, or blame migrants for causing its spread.
Terrorist groups also use the pandemic to gain visibility. Daesh, for instance, has been exploiting hashtags related to the coronavirus to redirect users to their radical propaganda. European extremist groups also capitalise on current fear and chaos to incite followers to commit attacks.
Neo-nazi groups encourage supporters to stir panic during the coronavirus outbreak and anarchist groups have called on members to commit attacks, as police forces would be overburdened with corona-related tasks.
The coronavirus pandemic has already caused high numbers of deaths, massive economic disruption, and had a huge impact on the daily lives of millions of people. In short, everything terrorists would want to achieve with their attacks. No surprise thus that the global pandemic serves as inspiration and influences the modus operandi of terrorists, both in terms of tactics and target selection.
Terrorist networks have encouraged followers to weaponise their own illness by trying to infect others. The pandemic might also serve as inspiration for their long-term strategies, leading to a potential rise of attempts to commit biological attacks.
Similar attacks occur fortunately very rarely; the most significant bio-terror attacks to date are a salmonellosis outbreak in Oregon, committed by the Rajneesh sect in the mid-80s, and the more than two dozen anthrax or ricin-laced letters in the early 2000s.
Terrorists have also found inspiration in the global pandemic with regards to their target selection, in particular critical health infrastructures. https://euobserver.com/opinion/148173