Terrorist propaganda ‘aims to split communities during lockdown’

Terrorist propaganda has shifted to focus on dividing communities during lockdown, a police chief has said.

Lucy D’Orsi, national policing lead for protective security, gave one example of far-right groups falsely claiming that Muslims had broken lockdown rules at mosques.

She told the PA news agency: “We’ve seen evidence that there has been a change in propaganda, which is seeking to divide communities, and I absolutely believe that communities defeat terrorism, so ensuring that the propaganda isn’t believed and the communities aren’t divided has really been important.”

In April Chief Superintendent Nik Adams, national co-ordinator of Government anti-extremism scheme Prevent, warned of a potential rise in the risk of radicalisation as people spent more time online and socially isolated during lockdown.

Police chiefs also want the public to remain aware of the continued risk of a terror attack as lockdown rules are eased.

Ms D’Orsi, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for the Met, said: “As a senior officer in counter terrorism it is my responsibility to share with the public where we see the current threat position.

“And what we see is that it is no different, it is still at substantial, so it is no different to where it was prior to lockdown.

“As we come out of lockdown, I think it is really important to remind people that the threat level from terrorism remains at substantial, which means an attack is likely.”

Action Counters Terrorism
Since lockdown began 70,000 people have taken the Action Counters Terrorism course (NPCC/PA)

The three-year anniversaries of the terror attacks at London Bridge and Manchester Arena fell within the last three weeks.

Ms D’Orsi said: “We’re all going to look forward to going back to crowded places, iconic locations.

“I would just really ask that people stay alert as they were before.

“It was only in the last couple of weeks when we’ve been reflecting on London Bridge three years ago, Manchester Arena three years ago.

“We just need the public to stay alert and play their part in national security, to create a hostile environment for terrorists to operate in.”

Since lockdown began in late March, 70,000 people have taken an online counter-terrorism prevention course, which trains the public how to spot suspicious behaviour and what to do in the event of an attack.

Since it was launched two years ago, half a million people have taken the Action Counters Terrorism online course.

The course can be accessed at https://ct.highfieldelearning.com/.

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