Over the last few months, the world has been left reeling from the effects of the COVID19 pandemic. Business operations have paused and shops have closed as government agencies frantically try to get the virus under control.
But what are the implications of COVID19 on terrorism? Whilst many may believe that terror attacks are an unlikely event given the current circumstances, the risk may be greater than we think. There have been reports that the terrorist group Al-Qaeda have called on people to adopt radicalisation even during this period. In this blog post, we discuss the relationship between COVID19 and terrorism and consider what companies should do to prepare their staff in the event of an attack.
COVID19 and terrorism
Whilst most of the world is concerned about the threat of COVID19, security professionals around the world have recognised that this may be the perfect opportunity for terrorist groups to attack. In an article featured in the International Security Journal, Adam Green discusses how terrorist groups may thrive of the current disruption the pandemic has brought. Many individuals are going through economic hardships, dealing with the frustrations of job loss, lack of income and the inability to travel or see loved ones. This coupled with long periods of isolation and lack of social contact could result in people adopting more radical behaviour. The UK terror threat level is currently at substantial meaning an attack is still likely.
Certain terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda have established a new protocol for their followers during this time and are informing followers that the group now have the ability to utilise the current global upheaval and should persuade more recruits to join their ranks, as well as exploit the situation to plan and perform targeted attacks. Al-Qaeda have encouraged people to use their time in self-isolation to convert to Islam and radicalisation, whilst ISIS supporters are calling for attacks on UK hospitals and other “vulnerable places”.
Terrorist incidents during lock-down
On the evening of Saturday 20th June, an attack occurred which killed three people and injured 2 others at Forbury Gardens in Reading. The assailant began attacking people with a knife and was arrested by police shortly after the incident. The attack is thought to be a terror inspired event and the Counter Terror Police have now taken over the investigation.
Although terrorist attacks such as these are often isolated incidents, the added pressure of radical organisations encouraging criminal behaviour during this time could mean that other attacks are possible in the near future.
The importance of being “prepared”
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict when a terror attack will occur or discern how severe it will be, however, being prepared may help to minimise the damage caused and protect your staff.
Counter-terrorism is an effective strategy that incorporates the practices of military, law enforcement and government tactics to combat or prevent terrorism. The main aim of counter-terrorism strategies is to reduce the impact of a terrorist attack and give individuals the knowledge they need to handle sensitive incidents.
There are different types of training programs that can equip your employees with the best response tactics for an emergency. The best way to identify how at risk your staff may be is to conduct a full risk assessment. This covers 4 main points:
- Identify the hazard by carrying out a workplace risk assessment
- Determine how employees might be at risk
- Evaluate the risks
- Record and review hazards at least annually, or earlier if something changes
There are also apps and software available to help companies manage the task of contacting their workforce during an incident.
IncidentEye is an easy to use tech-based solution that allows organisations to communicate with and locate employees in or near an incident zone. The innovative technology helps you meet your duty of care by rapidly locating and protecting employees during a crisis, such as a terror attack.
For more information on our incident management solutions, visit our website.