Terrorists exploit polarisation in society to pollute the social climate with violent ideologies. In recent years, polarisation of the political discourse has increased in the European Union. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated this development.
There has been a notable increase in intolerance of political opponents, while the number of individuals conducting verbal or physical violence is increasing too.
Mental health remains an issue in relation to terrorism and violent extremism. The situation created by the pandemic might be an additional stress factor, potentially encouraging vulnerable individuals to turn to violence.
Extremists and terrorists have found new opportunities in the increased time spent online during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a large amount of disinformation actively disseminated online, extremists and terrorists have exploited social dissatisfaction to reach out and propagate their ideologies.
2020 main figures
- 57 completed, failed and foiled terrorist attacks in the European Union (reported by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain);
- 21 people died because of terrorist attacks in the European Union;
- 449 individuals were arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in 17 EU Member States, a decrease of one-third compared with previous years.