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New Zealand says “misinformation” and Covid policies seen to be “infringing on rights” could fuel extremism

A secret service initiative.
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New Zealand authorities have released a guide to help people identify signs of violent extremism.

The secret service says they are usually closely monitoring between 40 to 50 potential terrorists, adding that most used to be motivated by their white identity or by religion – but in the past six months a third group has supposedly emerged; those motivated by politics, particularly around Covid.

“Recognizing a potential warning sign and then alerting New Zealand SIS or police could be the vital piece in the puzzle that ultimately saves lives,” NZSIS Director-General Rebecca Kitteridge said.

“To pay attention and to be alert so that if they see or hear about something that seems off, that worries them and concerns them, they might have a look at this information to say ‘does this indicate to me that this person is actually on the road to committing an attack.’”

The Director-General mentioned Covid specifically, adding that a growing number of people are also concerned about infringement on rights.

“So it could be the Covid measures that the Government took, or it could be other policies that are interpreted as infringing on rights and it’s a kind of what I describe as a hot mess of ideologies and beliefs fueled by conspiracy theories,” Kitteridge said.

Prime Minister also had comments:

“It would be wrong to imply that we have this significant surge in threat in that regard – are there individuals who subscribe to a particular ideology that may border and dip into violent extremism? Yes,” she said.

On the topic of online misinformation, Ardern said, “it’s not about censorship,” adding “It’s about equipping people to identify when they may be subject to misinformation, making sure we’re building our resilience in our young people to be able to identify it…and to create trusted sources where people know they can go.”

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