Stay calm — but remain vigilant. Terrorists won’t let a crisis go to waste. ABC News reports that a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo warns — violent extremists could seek to exploit the Wuhan Virus (COVID-19) to carry out attacks against the U.S.
The intelligence bulletin, sent to law enforcement nationwide, was compiled by the DHS Counterterrorism Mission Center and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.
According to the memo, “Violent extremists probably are seeking to exploit public fears associated with the spread of COVID-19 to incite violence, intimidate targets and promote their ideologies, and we assess these efforts will intensify in the coming months.”
DHS notes that it has “no information indicating any active plotting is underway,” but has observed certain groups looking to “spread misinformation about the coronavirus.”
However, ABC News reported that DHS did cite a weekly ISIS newsletter, “which called for supporters to carry out attacks against overburdened health care systems in various Western countries.”
Another section of the bulletin identifies white supremacists online who DHS says have “advocated for violence against a range of targets, including critical infrastructure and faith-based and minority communities — including Asian Americans in response to the COVID outbreak.”
Additionally, ABC News reported on an FBI’s New York field office alert that “showed intelligence gathered on racist extremist groups, including neo-Nazis, that were encouraging followers who contract COVID-19 to spread the disease to Jewish people and police officers.”
While this new intel adds to the stress of the current crisis, we should all do our best not to allow this information to create panic. It is just an added level to be aware of as we go about dealing with this crisis.
Stay calm — remain vigilant — and carry on.
Paul Crespo is a defense and national security expert. He served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. He holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. Paul is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and a Contributor to American Defense News.