Montag, 31. Januar 2022

Covid-19: Potential for anti-vaccination violence increases

My last paper for Jane’s Intelligence Review ist about Covid-19: Potential for anti-vaccination violence increases.

Keypoints are:

  • Demonstrations of anti-vaxxers are heterogeneous, although increasing numbers of right-wing extremists are involved.
  • The involvement of extremists increases the likelihood of demonstrations turning violent or activists conducting violent acts towards politicians or medical staff and facilities, for example.
  • Most of the propaganda related to the anti-vaxxer scene is on open online platforms meaning it may have a potentially substantial audience.
The text published by Jane’s Intelligence Review is a reduced version of the extensive analysis I conducted, in particular on the documents and pamphlets circulated in selected Telegram channels. Much, not all, of it is extremism and hate, coming from both the right and the left of the political spectrum.

I have been looking at similarities between right-wing and left-wing extremist arguments and agitation against the state's anti-covid measures and I think I have found some interesting overlaps. I was also struck by the qualitative difference between - more or less - open forums and the often overrated and mystified dark web.

In addition, there are also numerous evangelical and pseudo-religious argumentations, quotes and recommendations for action, which pose a particular challenge for law enforcement.

In the text, I also address the gap in the market for criminals due to vaccination refusal. Price offers, contact possibilities and procedures for entering the fake vaccination certificates into state databases are the main focus here.

Remarkable and worrying - according to my observation - are the influences of some states on the discussion. I was able to ascertain that a German-language Telegram channel with over 3,700 members intensively agitates the anti-vax scene - mainly with nearly 2,000 photos and nearly 1,900 videos (as of 31 January 2022) about supposed anti-Russia plans of the USA and the EU, reporting about the “masterminds in Paris and Kiev” and “Russian peacekeepers in Kazakhstan”.