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Terrorism and COVID-19: Actual and Potential Impacts


perspectives-on-terrorism-10-5Journal abstract

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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