Comparative Analyses of Terrorist Threats under Conditions of COVID-19

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-11-5-12
G. Machitidze (,
Institute for International Studies, MGIMO University, 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119421, Russian Federation

Abstract. The coronavirus pandemic has already caused high numbers of deaths, massive economic disruption, and had a huge impact on daily lives of millions of people. In short, – this is everything terrorist organizations affiliated with the ISIL and Al-Qaida would want to achieve with their attacks. The global pandemic serves as inspiration and influences the modus operandi of terrorists, both in terms of tactics and target selection. Since the pandemic started, the ISIL and Al-Qaida have persisted in operations across African, Asian and European countries, leaving hundreds of people dead. These attacks clearly show that terrorism has continued worldwide during the COVID 19 pandemic. Terrorist groups are looking at ways to take advantage of instability, increase recruitment and sympathizers among the vulnerable and terrified, encourage conventional and even biological attacks. Terrorist networks have encouraged followers to weaponise their own illness by trying to infect others. Terrorist groups also use the pandemic to gain visibility. The ISIL has been exploiting hashtags related to the coronavirus to redirect users to its radical propaganda. Terrorists have also found inspiration in the global pandemic with regard to their target selection, in particular critical health infrastructures. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has adopted a different approach to COVID 19 assisting efforts to limit the spread of the virus, including by declaring ceasefires in areas under its control. Hezbollah is working to fight the virus and maintain order within Lebanon. Because they control informal economies, groups like the Taliban or Lebanon’s Hezbollah are better placed to benefit from coronavirus than the ISIL or Al-Qaida. In general, terrorist groups are taking advantage of COVID 19 lockdowns to spread hatred and intensify social media efforts to recruit young people spending more time online.

Keywords: coronavirus, terrorist attacks, ISIL, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Islamist propaganda, recruitment


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For citation:
Machitidze G. Comparative Analyses of Terrorist Threats under Conditions of COVID-19. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 11, pp. 5-12.

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