Online Extremists Exploit COVID-19 to Inspire Supporters

Supporters of domestic and international extremist groups have encouraged followers to conduct attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic to incite panic, target minorities and immigrants, and celebrate the deaths of their enemies. In order to remain relevant, extremists routinely manipulate crises to validate their ideologies and incite potential attackers.

  • White supremacist extremists are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to advocate for the theory of accelerationism. The theory states that participating in mass attacks or creating other forms of chaos will accelerate the imminent and necessary collapse of society in order to build a racially pure nation. A neo-Nazi media group that promotes this theory has encouraged supporters to incite panic while people are practicing social isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak, which includes discharging firearms in cities and putting bullet-sized holes into car windows.
  • A French neo-Nazi blog proposed “exterminating” immigrant populations and excluding ethnic minorities from receiving medical treatment while claiming that “the best remedy for Covid-19 [was] the swastika.” This propaganda is similar to others from white supremacist extremists that have attempted to blame COVID-19 on “inferior” ethnic groups while advocating for the permanent closure of borders.
  • ISIS has encouraged jihadists to capitalize on the fear, ensuing chaos, and stress caused by COVID-19 by conducting attacks throughout afflicted and vulnerable populations in Europe and the United States. Additionally, ISIS supporters have claimed the coronavirus is a “soldier of Allah” and encouraged followers to celebrate how the pandemic has harmed the United States and European economies. ISIS supporters have also alleged it is divine punishment against atheists, Shias, Christians, and minority populations in China, Iran, and Italy.

Read more at the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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