Amid coronavirus pandemic, Islamic State calls on God to ‘increase torment of crusader nations’
The Islamic State has described the pandemic as a divinely wrought "painful torment" against "crusader nations". It also calls on God to “increase coronavirus torment” of non-believers.
As public health authorities and world leaders struggle to stem the devastating pandemic that has killed over 15,000 people across the globe, the mayhem caused by the disease has increasingly figured in the strategy of the Islamic State (IS) militant group. In their regular newsletter circulated recently via al-Naba publication, the terror group described the pandemic as a divinely wrought "painful torment" against "crusader nations" -- a term referring to Western countries engaged in a military campaign to uproot the group.
It calls on God to “increase coronavirus torment” of non-believers and boasts that “crusader nations” have been forced to retreat due to the pandemic.
The group’s new newsletter follows up on its previous article which instructed members on how to deal with the spread of the virus. They begin the article by stating that God “has imposed something of his painful torment on the nations of his creation”, claiming the virus is God's response to idolatrous nations, according to Al-Masdar News.
It then calls on God to increase the torment against any non-believing nations and protect the believers from any harm.
“We ask God to increase their torment and save the believers from all that. Indeed he is harsh of punishment against the one who rebels against him, and merciful to the one who obeys him and stands with him,” the terrorist group said, as quoted by a researcher.
While ISIS does not specifically call the virus by its official name, they do highlight the impacts the illness has had around the world. It comes after ISIS last week issued guidance for terrorists on how to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
A list of “religious directives” on tackling infectious diseases appeared in the same newspaper as the most recent comments.
The list included “stay away from sick people”, “wash your hands before eating” and “avoid travel to affected areas” – similar to advice being issued by world governments. But it also included decrees such as “put your faith in God and seek refuge in him”. Jihadists were also told “illnesses do not strike by themselves but by the command and decree of God”.
While ISIS has lost almost all of its so-called caliphate in the Middle East, it is thought to still hold pockets of territory across Iraq and Syria. Syria's government has confirmed its first case of coronavirus -- a 20-year-old woman who has been quarantined. The country has shut its borders, locked down citizens and closed schools, restaurants, cafes and parks and suspended conscription into the Army.
The virus is also spreading in neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq. Iraq suspended flights at its domestic airports from March 17 to 24.