DATE: 2021-05-09

On 09 May 2021, Research Officer Ms. Ayesha Binte Towhid presented her paper titled “Online Radicalization during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Trends, Strategies and Security Implications for Bangladesh” in the BIISS In-House Seminar. Ms. Towhid observed that violent extremist groups across the world have exploited the Covid-19 pandemic in different manners to push forward their agenda. In most cases, these groups seems to have resorted to social media platforms and messaging services to radicalize, recruit, mobilize and instigate attacks. The violent extremist groups in Bangladesh have also engaged in similar acts. Against this backdrop, she provided a broad overview of the global trends of online radicalization and a deeper insight into the issue in Bangladesh. Using both primary and secondary data, her findings showed that globally, there are several observable patterns in the online narratives and radicalization strategies of the groups, regardless of their ideologies. In the case of Bangladesh, it is seen that the online radicalization activities during the pandemic is a continuation of the strategy seen in the past few years but the organizations capitalized on the crisis and constructed new narratives surrounding it. When compared to the global trend, there are thematic resemblances with many of the narratives and specific relevance with the contents of transitional faith-based violent extremist groups. She concluded by reinstating that the pandemic has exposed several existing faultiness and created new vulnerabilities which are likely to have several security implications and some of those have already started to surface.