Terrorism Trends: What is On the Horizon?

Terrorism Trends: What is On the Horizon?

By Gov CIO Outlook | Monday, April 05, 2021

Today's threats underscore the need to change as problems emerge from new or emerging organizations, campaigns, and strategies.

FREMONT, CA: Among several vital lessons from national security, 2020 demonstrated the importance of being nimble as numerous challenges coincide. A pandemic was combined with the most active Atlantic hurricane season in decades, political unrest and demonstrations kept law enforcement on its toes. Organizations from vital infrastructure operators to city councils and worship centers were forced to evaluate and change defense postures based on simultaneous and sometimes overwhelming threat saturation.

Even the answer to COVID-19 offered the homeland community fresh insight into how to confront this shifting threat environment in 2021. With all the other issues facing defense personnel, organizations need to figure out how to wisely mold counter-terrorism policies and not let this priority take a back seat. Today's threats underscore the need to change as problems emerge from new or emerging organizations, campaigns, and strategies.

Conspiracy Theory Extremism

As consistently seen in 2020, conspiracy theories leap into the vacuum created by upheaval and appear to be stoked by grassroots protests and authority figures. Coronavirus' conspiracy theories have had devastating public health implications by convincing people not to take the threat seriously, compounding vaccine critics who argue that Bill Gates wants to microchip people, or asserting other arguments regarding the purposes of the inoculation programs.

Conspiracy theories that warranted homeland security's attention also include those put out by QAnon's (QAnon is a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory) followers suggesting ‘deep state’ conspiracies and more. The 5G conspiracy theories allege that technology is used to monitor citizens and distribute COVID. The white nationalist ‘great replacement’ hypothesis argues an orchestrated campaign against whites has been cited by mass shooters.

Violence Against Faith-Based Institutions

Among white supremacists, Islamists, and other politically and religiously driven extremists, attacks on religious institutions have acquired a kind of elevated status:

• They are always soft targets with a friendly atmosphere.

• They have a tremendous symbolic value for future perpetrators.

• The essence of the attacks achieves the goals of a jihadist shock-and-awe.

Threats to places of worship and faith-based organizations in 2021 would be highly motivated by militant groups' ability to increase relevance and recruit. So, attacks will increasingly feature multiple perpetrators instead of lone terrorists. These organizations still need to be held in mind when they customize small COVID opportunities and pandemic preventive initiatives that extremists have publicly addressed using coronavirus as a bioweapon to infect crowds.

Complex Coordinated Attacks

2021, though, could see changes, not just in who is committing attacks, but in how they are committing attacks. Radical groups promote the more ‘revolutionary’ caliber attacks, the more likely they are to continue to demonstrate strength in numbers. And the more threats involving multiple co-conspirators, the more one could see multi-faceted campaigns aimed at throwing off the targeted targets and law enforcement, targeting numerous sites, or using various techniques against targets.

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