Countering and Preventing Violent Extremist Grooming

This guide aims to raise awareness of indicators of violent extremist grooming, to help people identify some of the key warning signs.

online grooming
Explore - Motif long strip

Online Violent Extremist Grooming is Real.

Radical groups are targeting vulnerable adults by befriending them online in efforts to convert them gradually to be sympathetic to their cause and even incite violent behaviour.

The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Department of the Prime Minister have contracted several stakeholders to help make Aotearoa aware of the risk and how to identify warning signs and what to do about it.

Over the coming weeks and months, together with Carers NZ and Autism NZ, Explore Hāpainga Ora will be developing content that’s targeted for you, the family carer, and your loved one to help prevent and counter this new threat.

Meanwhile, here are some key indicators to be aware of which might be early warning signs that an extremist group has befriended your loved one or a person you support.

Know the signs

The behaviours and activities below on their own may not be considered signs that violent extremist grooming is occurring.  However, when the behaviours and activities are occurring together this could signify violent extremist grooming is occurring.

The most important indicator is a change that you’ve observed.


A change in opinion, typically out of context.

Accessing online violent videos / media and change of music choice.

Vocalises sympathy for terrorist groups.

Associations and Relationships

Abandons employment without notice.

Withdraws from normal circle of friends because they “have made new ones” that they won’t openly talk about.


Requests information about particular sites and emblems. Shows an interest in offshore locations where known terrorist organisations exist. Begins to show an interest in dangerous weapons / knives and seeks access to these.


Sells or disposes of personal belongings unexpectedly, or with urgency, and shows a disregard for their own wellbeing.

Security Awareness*

Becomes suspicious and protective of their online history.

Uses fake names online.

Asks about Virtual Private Network options.

Creates stories to try to explain suspicious behaviour or activities.

* These behaviours on their own are not considered signs of violent extremism.

Unusual Behaviour*

Stops participating in regular and established commitments.

Withdraws from or abandons close relationships.

Appears withdrawn or prone to sudden outbursts.

* These behaviours on their own are not considered signs of violent extremism.

Help is available.

If you have any concerns that your person or loved one has been contacted by and / or is being groomed by an extremist group, the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service can help.

Click on the button below if you concerned about someone being groomed.

In an emergency, please dial 111 or inform the Police at

Explore logo