A U.S. counterterrorism report circulated within the RCMP warned that terrorists could use the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to attack hospitals, public safety officers and other vulnerable targets.
According to Global News, the U.S. National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC) report was seen and read by the RCMP’s First Responder Terrorism Awareness Program.
“Pandemics and other natural crises create unprecedented challenges that terrorists could exploit to conduct attacks against an already stressed society, and strained government and public safety system,” claimed the report.
“While most citizens isolate in their homes, public safety personnel, hospitals and establishments, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, serve the largest number of co-located individuals, making them potentially attractive targets.”
The report warns that minority communities and places of worship could be targeted by violent extremists seeking to advance their agendas.
A March 24 white supremacist plot in Kansas City was cited by the report as evidence that extremists could use the pandemic as an opportunity to strike.
36-year-old Timothy Wilson died in a shootout with the FBI who were attempting to arrest him over an alleged plot to bomb a medical centre.
“The RCMP is aware of this report and receives a number of COVID-19 related intelligence reports daily from a variety of sources,” said RCMP spokesperson Catherine Fortin.
“The COVID-19 crisis is bringing uncertainty and financial insecurity to a large portion of the population. However, the frustrations created by this situation in no case justify hatred, threats, and inciting violence.”
On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during his daily COVID-19 briefing that a return to normalcy in Canada is “a very long way off.”
“Normality as it was before will not come back full-on until we get a vaccine for this… That will be a very long way off,” said Trudeau.
“We will have to remain vigilant for at least a year.”