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Terrorists may target virus-weakened states, report warns



Terrorist organizations could take advantage of weakened states combating the coronavirus outbreak and could use biological weapons, the Turkish National Police Academy warned in a report.

For months, countries have been focused on managing their domestic problems, keeping their economies afloat and struggling to pull through the global pandemic with as few casualties as possible. In a report published on April 30 under the title “Psychological and Sociological Evaluations on the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Period After,” the police academy put forth the possible effects the outbreak could have on societies and states.

The report, prepared by Coşkun Taştan, an instructor at the police academy, stated that the situation of countries troubled with health problems could lead to significant changes in the definitions of threat and approaches toward security.

“This change can be two-way. Terrorist organizations may evaluate the weakness of states in this manner, turn this situation into an advantage and could use biological weapons in the upcoming years during their terrorist acts,” the report says, adding that this could lead to a change in the notion of a country's threat assessment in the same way suicide bombs had an effect on security technologies and the definition of safety.

“Security technologies based on nanotechnology, biochemistry and artificial intelligence could gain huge significance,” it added.

Indicating that globalization, population growth, wars, terrorist acts, the effect of consumption and industrialization on the atmosphere and the environment, the increase of international travel and trade, the wrong and widespread use of antimicrobial medicines and the increase of people's suspicion of vaccines all are factors that enhance the risk of further pandemic outbreaks, the report said. It added that medical developments and technology are the greatest weapons in the fight against COVID-19.

“Together with the coronavirus pandemic, it could be clearly observed that in countries where individualism is on the forefront, such as in the U.S., individuals lacking economic means and social security is actually not an individual issue but a systematic problem that concerns the whole society,” the report said.

The police academy also stated that COVID-19 could enhance xenophobia and may also lead to neuropsychological changes. The report categorized the pandemic’s psychological effects into three points: social relations, uncertainty and the fragility of life. It said physical isolation and monotonous activities negatively affect social relationships.

The report stressed that foreigners and migrants could be the target of backlash in some countries. While Turkey has hosted the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world, some countries such as the U.S. have adopted harsh treatment toward migrants, the report said.

Similarly, Greece had also put several migrants and asylum-seekers into overcrowded camps and detention centers, which could enhance the spread of the coronavirus. Several rights groups have criticized Athens for its severe treatment of migrants.