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Terrorism and COVID-19: Actual and Potential Impacts


The COVID-19 pandemic presents both challenges and opportunities for terrorists. While the hazards of the disease and disruptions to society inhibit some of their operations, by their very nature as asymmetric adversaries, terrorists tend to adapt quickly and exploit conditions of uncertainty and instability to further their goals. This Research Note provides a preliminary overview of how COVID-19 might affect the state of contemporary terrorism. In so doing, it introduces and discusses 10 different ways that the pandemic could impact the terrorism landscape in the short, medium and long term. These range from terrorists leveraging an increased susceptibility to radicalization and inciting a rise in anti-government attitudes, to engaging in pro-social activities and even reconsidering the utility of bioterrorism. Acknowledging the publication of this Research Note in the midst of the pandemic and its necessarily speculative nature in the absence of historical precedent, the discussion nonetheless seeks to draw attention to several possible pathways along which terrorism might evolve in response to COVID-19 and its attendant societal effects.

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Ackerman, Gary and Hayley Peterson. 2020. "Terrorism and COVID-19: Actual and Potential Impacts." Perspectives on Terrorism 14 (June): 59-73. https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/perspectives-on-terrorism/archives/2020#volume-xiv-issue-3

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