UNICRI report says extremists exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic

According to a report by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, “Terrorist, violent extremist and organized criminal groups are trying to take advantage of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to expand their activities and jeopardize the efficacy and credibility of response measures by governments. 

According to UNICRI Director Antonia Marie De Meo, “It is also alarming that some terrorist and violent extremist groups have attempted to misuse social media to incite potential terrorists to intentionally spread COVID-19 and to use it as an improvised form of a biological weapon”. 

According to UNICRI, the Report describes how terrorist, violent extremist and organized criminal groups are trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to expand their activities and jeopardize the efficacy and credibility of response measures by governments.  

The COVID-19 crisis has amplified misinformation and disinformation on social media and has created new opportunities for violent non-state actors.   

In recent months UNICRI has detected an exponential increase of malicious use of social media to undermine trust in governments and, at the same time, to reinforce extremist narratives, recruitment strategies and control of the territory by criminal groups.   

Terrorist, violent extremist and organized criminal groups have successfully exploited vulnerabilities in the social media to manipulate people and disseminate conspiracy theories. 

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