Violent ideologies are increasingly spreading as the COVID-19 virus does. A new report from Europol in an EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report can confirm. This report warns of a notable increase in political intolerance. In particular, the trend was common in 2020, and the global pandemic is majorly to blame.
The COVID-19 era saw many people spend time online during the lockdown. And the attackers have taken advantage of this to advance violent ideologies.
A total of 57 completed, failed, and foiled attacks occurred in 2020. But only six member states out of the 27 bloc members have been victims. Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, are on top. Consequently, twenty-one people lost their lives due to these acts of violence. Similarly, 449 people suspected of terrorism-related offenses were arrested. The arrests occurred in 17 member states.
Lone-Wolf Jihadism and Violent Ideologies
Jihadist-related terrorism is one of the greatest threats to the 27 member countries. According to Europol, the number of attacks related to this ideology increases yearly. And in 2020, 12 people died while 50 more got injured. These lone actors were at some point in contact with terrorist groups. A notable case to remember is the November 2020 Vienna attack. An incident that left four people dead.
Europol said jihadist groups used channels like Telegram to spread their ideologies. But that has since been reduced after a collaboration between Europol and Telegram. The two agencies agreed to seal all the loopholes the jihadists use to spread violent ideas. With that, the jihadist propaganda has spread across other channels.
Now, groups like Islamic State and Al-Qaeda are using different methods to promote their ideologies. For example, Al-Qaeda is spreading discrimination agenda in Western countries. In addition, this terrorist group is casting itself as the savior to the oppressed in various avenues.
Violent Ideologies on Right-Wing Terrorism
Violent ideologies have also found roots in the right-wing extremists. These believers are using newly emerging issues to spread their ideas. This is true especially to the communities that may not have shared a similar view to them.
One of the new emerging issues they are using is social awareness of climate change. The right-wingers believe immigration and overpopulation are to blame for the climate crisis. Furthermore, they are now using this to promote ideologies like nationalism, anti-Semitism, and accelerationism. These are recent nationalist goals used to speed racial conflict and white ethnostate.
The proponents of these violent ideologies are using online gaming platforms to disseminate the ideas. And the worrying case is that the messages are reaching younger and educated people.
Beyond that, the only right-wing terrorist attack to succeed was in Hanau, Germany. This February 2020 incident killed nine people. Three different attempts in Belgium, France, and Germany, failed or were intercepted. Yet, left-wing anarchies and related attacks remained on a larger scale. Italy, for example, reported 24 cases out of 25 attacks.
These believers targeted private and public properties like government buildings and financial organizations. Left-wing terrorists bank most of their acts on anti-racism, anti-fascism, and oppression by the state. They have also since expanded skepticism ideas on technology and scientific transformations.
Violent ideologies may have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic but that is not news. Similar acts have been right within the human populace for a long time. But it is sad to note no concrete action has ever worked to tame the trend. And now that the situation is on the rise, it only calls for the swiftest solutions.