Andrei Novikov, head of Russia’s Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Anti-Terrorism Center, said in an interview with the state-run Tass news service on Monday that international terrorist organizations are deliberately attempting to spread the Wuhan coronavirus in public areas around the world.
“While governments are trying to ensure health security, focusing on protecting the lives and health of their people, recruiters of international terrorist groups are not just taking advantage of the difficult situation in order to recruit more ‘Jihad soldiers,’ they are calling on infected members to spread COVID-19 as wide as possible in public places, state agencies and so on,” Novikov said.
Novikov said countries that have “effective systems to control the epidemiological situation, identify the infected and treat the sick” are best able to combat this form of bio-terrorism.
Elsewhere in the interview, he said the coronavirus pandemic has “somewhat reduced” other forms of terrorist activity in CIS nations because “it became significantly more difficult for terrorists to move around, especially between countries, given that border control as well as disease control and prevention were heightened.”
As with legitimate business and government operations, Novikov said terrorists were obliged to work from home, replacing in-person gatherings and international travel with online activities that combine “the spread of terrorist and extremist ideology and the recruitment of new members.”
Novikov said terrorist recruiters are taking advantage of the “declining quality of life” in countries hit hard by the coronavirus, especially those which “had been at the bottom of the economic rankings” before the pandemic and have been affected by “prolonged social stress and by religious radicalization.” In essence, he warned terrorist recruiters are stoking resentment against government-imposed lockdowns and the inability of governments to get the coronavirus under control.
International Business Times noted a similar warning from European Union counter-terrorism coordinated Gilles de Kerchove a few weeks ago.
Kerchove warned that the “massive amount of money that will be spent to address the economic, social, and healthcare consequences of the virus” must not be allocated at the expense of national security.
“We must prevent the one crisis ending up producing another,” he urged.