ISIS included a full-page infographic on coronavirus prevention in the new issue of the terror group’s official weekly al-Naba newsletter.
The group has followed the outbreak from the beginning of this year, regularly including updates in the news briefs section of the newsletter. “A new virus spreads death and terror in China,” al-Naba reported in January, adding that “communist China is panicking after a new virus has spread” and noting how Chinese officials discussed the discovery of person-to-person transmission as well as the lockdown of Wuhan. Al-Naba highlighted “growing concern about the spread of the infectious virus,” adding that “this could push the World Health Organization into an emergency.”
Around the same time, ISIS-supporting Quraysh Media, which has been active in its production of online propaganda posters, seized on the outbreak to produce and disseminate a poster with a grainy image of a person in a hazmat suit and respirator. “China: coronavirus,” the poster stated, adding, “A promise is a debt we must not forget.”
As the outbreak spread, perhaps mindful that the global reach of the new coronavirus could also pose a threat to their members or supporters, the Islamic State turned to criticizing the Chinese government for hiding the scope of coronavirus outbreak.
In a February al-Naba piece, ISIS noted that while “many Muslims rushed to confirm that this epidemic is a punishment from God Almighty” for China’s widescale abuse of of the Uyghur population, “the world is interconnected” and transportation “would facilitate the transfer of diseases and epidemics.” Muslims should “seek help from God Almighty to avoid illness and keep it away from their countries,” the terror group added.
“The real numbers for the dead and the ill are many times what they announced,” the ISIS news brief said, adding that China was “claiming the recovery and discharge of some patients with the disease… to reassure people, and to reduce the catastrophic effects.”
In the latest al-Naba issue, a full-page graphic on the back cover cited Islamic texts for “directives to deal with epidemics.”
ISIS highlights “the counsel to put trust in God and seek refuge in Him from illnesses” and “the obligation of taking up the causes of protection from illnesses and avoiding them.” The terror group also added that “the healthy should not enter the land of the epidemic and the afflicted should not exit from it,” though their claimed provinces and active cells aren’t all operating in virus-free lands: While West and Central Africa remain mostly untouched, along with no reported cases in Syria or Yemen (where ongoing war would make gauging the extent of an outbreak difficult), cases have been reported in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, the Philippines and Indonesia.
ISIS also reminds followers to “cover the mouth when yawning and sneezing” and cites a hadith about germs and contamination: “Cover the vessels and tie up the waterskins, for there is one night in the year when pestilence descends, and it does not pass by any vessel that is not covered or any waterskin that is not tied up, but some of that pestilence descends into it.”
People should also “wash the hands before dipping them into vessels,” ISIS concludes.