Terrorist organizations took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to spread ideology and false rhetoric to undermine the seriousness of global outbreak, according to a senior official at Saudi Arabia’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal).
Mansour al-Shammari, Secretary-General of Etidal, said that extremism and terrorism are the main enemy of the development and stability of all global societies and said countries must work to protect citizens from being exposed to ideology, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.
Speaking during a joint press conference held with the Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism center (UNCCT) Dr Jehangir Khan, referred to the remarkable UN and international efforts in combating violent extremism and terrorism, al-Shammari stressed Etidal’s keenness to exchange expertise in a way that serves joint goals and strategies between the two centers.
He said that Etidal works to expose the methods of extremist organizations in targeting young members of society by educating people about terrorist groups and warning them against the threats of ideology.
He added: We at Etidal are fully aware of the dangers of this ideology and its organizations that utilize all possible means to spread it, which required us to draw specialized plans and strategies to refute and foil this ideology.”
For his part, Khan commended Saudi Arabia’s efforts in combating extremist ideology as well as the Saudi government’s financial and moral support to UNCCT.
He also added: “We face a global challenge; extremism has no religion, race or culture, warning from the new methods that extremists follow in spreading their ideologies, such as using videogames.”
Etidal, UNCCT sign MoU to strengthen cooperation
Etidal and UNCCT signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in April to “strengthen cooperation in preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism,” according to a statement at the time.
The agreement will lead to the development of joint projects between Etidal and UNCCT, the statement added.
The projects include capacity-building workshops in the field of strategic communications to prevent violent extremism and countering the use of the internet for terrorist purposes, as well as campaigns to raise awareness on youth engagement, tolerance and support for victims of terrorism.
Etidal was established in 2017 in the Saudi capital Riyadh, under the patronage of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, with the aim of working to confront the phenomenon of extremist ideology. It works to raise awareness and promote a culture of moderation, tolerance and coexistence, and to support international efforts to achieve this.