Preventing violent extremism during and after the COVID-19 pandemic

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Preventing violent extremism during and after the COVID-19 pandemic

While the world’s attention appropriately focuses on the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, the threat of violent extremism remains, and has in some circumstances been exacerbated during the crisis. The moment demands new and renewed attention so that the gains made to date do not face setbacks.

Headlines over the past few weeks have suggested that violent extremist and terrorist groups ranging from Colombian hit squads to ISIS affiliates in sub-Saharan Africa to far-right extremists in the United States are watching the disruption caused by COVID-19. Many are at least aware of the potential to benefit from that disruption, and in some cases they are already taking advantage.

As with so much reporting on and analysis of the pandemic, however, there is a shortage of data and evidence to support the headlines. The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), where two of the authors work, has surveyed 50 local NGOs it supports to build community resilience against violent extremism in eight developing countries worldwide, to try to understand the nature of the threat. Six themes recur.

First, in most communities surveyed, with many schools closed and recreational and cultural activities suspended, most young people are now confined to their homes, and are spending even more time online. Their frustration, combined with a rapid growth of online vitriol, makes them more vulnerable to online radicalization to violent extremist agendas. Learn more...

 

Source : Brookings