Jihadi terrorism on the rise during pandemic

By Marta Rullán

Madrid Desk, May 20 (efe-epa).- Jihadi terrorism has increased its activity during the coronavirus pandemic while most of the world is focused on Covid-19.

There has been an increase in field operations in the Middle East and Africa and an intensive recruitment of young people online by the Islamic State terror organization, Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups during the quarantine months.

Extremist groups have regained some power after recent heavy defeats, such as the fall of the so-called caliphate or the death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The health crisis has offered them an opportunity to try to impose their agendas.

Carola García-Calvo, senior analyst in a programme on violent radicalisation and global terrorism at Spain’s Elcano Royal Institute, said: “If we analyze the communications issued in the last few weeks, as a result of the health emergency, we see that they are going to take advantage of the crisis.”

This was also the case during the Arab Spring uprisings in the 2010s, she added.

Circumstances have changed since then and the chance for jihadi groups to carry out attacks as they did in the past is “very complicated, apart from isolated actions.”

The current situation has created unfavorable conditions for the commission of a major attack in Europe: lack of crowds, physical distancing and a large presence of police and military in the streets.

Colonel Pedro Baños, an expert in geostrategy, security, intelligence and terrorism, told Efe that European intelligence services “have not let their guard down, far from it.”

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