(Taliban photo)

Social Distancing, Taliban-Style: Terror Group Promotes COVID-19 Awareness Campaign Amid Attacks

After declaring the coronavirus pandemic to be a “decree of Allah,” the Taliban are now promoting their coronavirus awareness campaign and releasing images of their social distancing measures.

As of this morning, Afghanistan’s Health Ministry reported 423 total cases of COVID-19 in the country, a jump of 56 cases in the past 24 hours. The province of Herat, along the border with hard-hit Iran, currently has the most cases in the nation.

The Taliban said they held an “awareness campaign regarding precaution measures against coronavirus outbreak” in neighboring Badghis province on April 1, “where masks and other essential materials were also distributed.”

On March 30, the group said that “in order to combat the outbreak of coronavirus with collaboration of specialist doctors” they “distributed public awareness pamphlets, masks, soaps” in Saripul province. “People were also urged to take all precautions including social distancing through announcements in loudspeakers,” the Taliban added. On the same day, they said they “held public awareness meetings and gatherings in different parts of Paktika province to educate the public on the dangers of COVID-19 and stop its spread.”

“Such gatherings and meetings have also been organized along Kabul-Kandahar highway near Ghazni to raise awareness of residents and motorists of the COVID-19,” the Taliban added. “Health authorities and employees of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan suggested necessary ways to help prevent its spread from person to person and updated the people on the symptoms of the COVID-19 and its possible treatment.”

Pictures of a Taliban coronavirus event in Logar province showed a few dozen men wearing facial masks and sitting in single-file rows of spaced-apart chairs. Pictures from Badghis province, though, showed unmasked crowds gathering around a few masked Taliban standing at a table with fliers and a box of disposable face masks.

As the outbreak ramped up last month, the Taliban declared that coronavirus “is a disease ordained by the Almighty Allah which has perhaps been sent by Allah because of the disobedience and sins of mankind or other reasons” and demanded that others supply them with medical needs for areas under Taliban control.

The terror group, who launched several attacks across several provinces soon after that message, said that since the virus is “a decree of Allah” it has to be dealt with “in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Prophet,” with recitation of prayers, more Quran reading and giving alms for repentance.

The Taliban added that “international relief, health and humanitarian organizations should execute their obligation of sending necessary equipment, medicine and aid to areas under our control and we shall lay the groundwork for their secure travel.”

They also warned “our brotherly businessmen” to not engage in price gouging, saying they “must also support their fellow people in this time of crisis” and “refrain from unlawful profit, price hikes and hoarding and instead show affinity towards the people.”

How the Taliban Deal Could Inspire Other Terrorists

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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 senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She 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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