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Friday, June 9, 2023

ISIS Lauds ‘Death and Terror’ of Coronavirus Outbreak

ISIS is lauding the spread of the deadly coronavirus with a report in its official newsletter and propaganda images distributed online by a leading ISIS-supporting media group.

The terror group has previously seized upon natural disasters as supposed proof that God is supporting them in targeting their adversaries, and also has used naturally occurring events in attack suggestions — impressing upon followers that if a natural calamity causes this much suffering, jihadists can bring about similar destruction using manmade methods.

In the issue of ISIS’s al-Naba weekly newsletter released late last week, the terror group includes the coronavirus outbreak in its news briefs alongside headlines from Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

“A new virus spreads death and terror in China,” al-Naba reports, 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.”

ISIS-supporting Quraysh Media has been active in its production of online propaganda posters, and 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.”

Other recent images from Quraysh Media have emphasized how a power outage could ground aviation and portrayed a jihadist taking down a helicopter with an RPG. The group also encouraged the targeting of pipelines and oil tanker trucks, telling lone actors they should be “targeting gas stations by throwing a cigarette to look like an accident.” In one poster titled “The Airship,” showing a hot-air balloon floating over the U.S. Capitol with a handful of uniformed soldiers photoshopped in the foreground, a Quraysh Media infographic suggested that operatives can “burn large areas using the airship, by throwing (fire) from the airship on different places after you pass over the forest.”

Both ISIS and al-Qaeda jumped on the news of deadly wildfires over the past few years to brand them as divine retribution and encourage loyalists to not wait for an act of God and start blazes on their own.

Terror groups have long encouraged or shown distinct curiosity in their communications about branching out into bio, agricultural or chemical attacks. ISIS supporters – while not claiming responsibility for sticking needles in fruit – used Australia’s 2018 strawberry contamination crisis to gin up more threats and suggestions, vowing to make westerners “check everything and anything you eat out of fear, horror and terror.”

Al-Faqir, one of the ISIS-backing media outlets, released a video in July 2018 discussing how to wage a bioattack on the West “that cannot be detected or tracked” by authorities. “Sprinkle the liquid substances or the basics of bacteria with drinking water to take effect automatically,” the video advised would-be jihadists. “Sprinkle the crushed material on exposed fruit and public foods or scatter them in the air in crowded places — with caution.” An Al-Taqwa Media Foundation poster distributed in December 2018 conspicuously was plastered with biohazard warning symbols, reading, “You have realized the danger of the Islamic State. But you did not know the treatment, and you will not know the treatment, because there is no treatment!”

OUTBREAK: Is America Prepared to Face Growing Biothreats?

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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