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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: ODT files
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: ODT files
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was warned that the first Covid lockdown could have opened space for extremists to fill with "misinformation" to "exacerbate people's fears" of each other.

That's according to top officials from the Prime Minister's department, who said: "Right-wing extremists are using the crisis to spread hate and conspiracies."

Because of the lockdown, Ardern was told, people were spending more time online in self-isolation, which created an "increased risk of exposure to extremist content and of radicalisation".

This is according to a briefing from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), obtained under the Official Information Act, on extremism in New Zealand – both right-wing and Islamist.

Officials warned Ardern that this was a problem all Five Eyes partners had experienced and all members take this problem "seriously," according to the top officials.

"All have detected a growing extreme right-wing phenomenon and have had instances of terrorism and lower-level violence."

In the report, officials warned Ardern: "Right-wing, Islamic and other extremists are using the Covid-19 crisis to spread hate, conspiracies and extremist narratives".

"Internationally this has included anti-Chinese racism, theories that the virus was deliberately started or spread by traditional enemies such as Jewish people or the "Deep State", and claims that the pandemic is less serious than stated and governments are using it to enforce authoritarian measures."

Although, at the time the report was written in May last year, New Zealand's terror threat was at medium, "periods of crisis open up the political space for extremists to fill with misinformation or to exacerbate people's fears of the other".

"This has been true of the Covid-19 pandemic, with those spending more time online in self-isolation at increased risk of exposure to extremist content and of radicalisation.

"This is of significant concern as right-wing extremists online have encouraged attacks against target communities, including deliberately spreading the virus."

The report cited a neo-Nazi bomb plot against a hospital treating Covid-19 patients in the US as evidence of this.

"Lockdowns may present challenges to would-be attackers but will not necessarily deter small-scale attacks."

But another report, also released under the OIA, detailed the risk profile of Islamist extremists in New Zealand.

"Risk Profile notes that New Zealand agencies are aware of a small number of Islamist extremists in New Zealand who were of security concern and who had the capability to commit an unsophisticated terrorist attack," the report said.

It added that there have been numerous calls of encouragement over many years from the Islamic State and al-Qai'da, and their support to conduct attacks targeting the West.

"Since the Christchurch terrorist attack, calls of encouragement have specifically mentioned New Zealand."

Comments

She forgot to mention the extreme left....
Extremists in all sides would do this.
It shows how blinkered she is to her own ideology

What’s with the “right wing” label !!! ???
Nazi is an acronym. The full name of the party was Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (English: National-Socialist German Workers' Party) and they officially used the acronym NSDAP.
National-Socialist being the key phrase.
ISIS or DAESH believe “jihad in the form of "violence and terrorism" was "justified to realize their political objectives"“ which is little different from the NAZI or Stalinist or Maoist methodologies.
“ Usually the right-wing thinks of society as similar to a living thing, what is called "organic society". They believe that society's customs and traditions are a collection of things that we have learned from the past and are useful and should be maintained as much as possible.”
Given that these definitions are true, how could what the report describes, be called Right-Wing !!! ???
The Orwellian age is here.
"Orwellian" is an adjective describing a situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society.

"periods of crisis open up the political space for extremists to fill with misinformation or to exacerbate people's fears of the other" and the media's daily barrage of fear wrapped up in the guise of 'news' doesn't help.

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