Increased risk of terror attack in NZ because of COVID-19

Danny Watson 11/11/2021

LISTEN: Kiwis are being warned about an increased risk of a terror attack in New Zealand because of the coronavirus pandemic.

National security advisors say further lockdowns or vaccine drives could trigger violent extremists to commit a terrorist act on Aotearoa.

The Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG), an inter-agency group made up of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), Police, Defence Force and Corrections, predicts the COVID-19 pandemic will have a "detrimental effect on the New Zealand terrorism threat environment".

Intelligence Agencies Minister Andrew Little blames misinformation being spread online which could lead some people to conduct extremist behaviours.

"There are some people that get the idea that actually maybe it's okay to start taking their anger or frustration out in a physical way and causing or threatening harm to others," Little told Magic Talk. 

During the lockdown, people were likely to have had greater exposure to online extremist content due to spending more time online which could result in more radicalised individuals, CTAG said.

"For people who are motivated to cause harm to a large number of people because of the view they hold that is the definition of terrorism," Little said.

Intelligence agencies are on "alert" and are looking out for those who make credible threats for inciting violence.

"The agencies are required to be very careful, keep a careful balance, allow democracy to prevail, allow people to express their views - including unpopular views."

Meanwhile, the public is being urged to take this terror threat seriously.

"We would be foolish to ignore the possibility that some of these people are going to go from making threats to actually carrying them out," Massey University Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley told Newshub.

"I think COVID is a gamechanger, I think the anxiety but also the politics which are very anti-Government that are occuring at the moment have significantly increased the possibility that we're going to get violence and possibly terrorist attacks."

Listen to the full interview with Andrew Little above.

Magic Talk | Afternoons with Danny Watson, weekdays from 12pm

Missed an interview on Magic Talk? Subscribe to the Daily Dialogue now.