‘Or it could be other policies that are interpreted as infringing on rights…fueled by conspiracy theories’
The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) last week published a guide titled, “Know the Signs: A guide for identifying signs of violent extremism” to help Kiwis identify potential terrorists in their midst.
While the guide itself does not specify any one ideology, NZSIS Director-General Rebecca Kitteridge singled out those who were unhappy with the country’s harsh COVID restrictions or any feeling of rights infringement.
“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 fuelled by conspiracy theories,” Kitteridge said, according to News Hub.
The guide is “asking people to report any behaviors or activities they come across that resemble any of the indicators described in this guide, or that feel concerning.”
The NZSIS also notes that the guide specifically focuses on extremist acts that “become, or there is an intention that they become, violent.” As for non-violent forms of extremism, the NZSIS does not say they are covered under freedom of expression, but instead “lie outside the purpose of this booklet and outside NZSIS’s areas of focus.”
Four categories of motivation are included in the guide: faith-motivated violent extremism, political-motivated violent extremism, identity-motivated violent extremism, and single-issue-motivated violent extremism.
The guide then lists 52 indicators Kiwis can use to determine if their fellow citizen is a threat, including a “hostile Us-versus-Them worldview.”
This is characterized by making “dehumanising, hostile or violent statements against individuals or groups they perceive as ‘the enemy’ or the ‘other’,” which would seemingly include calling those who did not take the COVID shots “the enemy”.
Another indicator of violent extremism is someone who tries to not be tracked on the internet and “conceals their online activities by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) or proxy servers,” a common technique among users who try to access sites like Netflix not available in their location.
Violent extremists may also use “fake names, aliases or pseudonyms when online or within specific communities,” or they may create “exclusive groups on secure forums or messaging apps” such as Signal or Telegram. These apps are used by many who wish to speak freely without fear of being monitored or censored by mainstream social media platforms.
The guide then provides information on how to contact the authorities to inform on someone, even anonymously.
“Recognising a potential warning sign and then alerting New Zealand SIS or police could be the vital piece in the puzzle that ultimately saves lives,” said Kitteridge.