A magazine published by ISIS supporters encouraged attacks using simple weapons and tactics specifically targeting military and police officers during the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an article in the second issue of “The Voice of Hind,” a magazine published and distributed online by ISIS supporters in India, the ISIS supporters declare that COVID-19 “is a punishment sent by Allah on whom he wished, and Allah made it mercy for the believers.”
The magazine tells jihadists to “prepare with whatever you have and Rise up! and make it worse for the Kuffar [disbelievers]” during the pandemic, and “nonetheless show mercy towards the believers and support them during these times.”
“Undoubtedly, Allah has made this disease a source of chaos amongst the nations of disbelief, and their militaries and police have been deployed in their streets and alleys, thus making them an easy target,” the article continues.
“So, use this opportunity to strike them with a sword or a knife or even a rope is enough to stop their breath, fill the streets with their blood. Indeed, this is the punishment and wrath of Allah up on the disbelievers, so make it worse for them. Allah aids those who aid His religion and Allah is pre dominant over His affairs but most of the people do not know.”
Another page in the magazine lists some ways to “annihilate the disbelievers,” including vehicle attacks, knife and ax attacks, arson, and poisoning food and drink.
The first issue of “The Voice of Hind” was released in late February to coincide with President Trump’s visit to India. The latest issue was released in late March.
The encouragement of terrorism linked to the coronavirus joins other ISIS propaganda including a graphic circulated by ISIS supporters declaring the virus to be a “soldier of Allah.”
ISIS stressed in a late March editorial on the coronavirus pandemic that countries’ security distraction in trying to control and respond to the spread of the virus leaves an opening for jihadists to exploit.
While countries have been “striving to reduce the likelihood of the mujahideen launching attacks,” said the full-page article on page 3 in the latest issue of ISIS’ al-Naba newsletter, the coronavirus represents “additional pressure and burden” on governments including price hikes, product shortages and “a great retreat in the economy and incomes” that reduces the ability of governments to coordinate counterterrorism operations with one another and brings “fears that their other enemies will exploit this critical situation they are all going through in order to make gains at their expense.”
“The last thing they want,” ISIS continued, is for jihadists to be currently preparing new attacks “similar to the strikes of Paris, London, Brussels and other places.”
ISIS added that not only is security strained but hospitals in affected countries are overburdened and “what they fear above all is that the mujahideen should greet them in the morning” like on the days of attacks past. Militaries, they said, have been driven by the virus into “a state of paralysis because of the restriction of their movements,” and also face crippling budget pressure.
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.