Extremists see global chaos from virus as an opportunity
Although both the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda acknowledge the health risk presented by coronavirus, some of their members see the global upheaval from the pandemic as an opportunity to hit countries at a time where they are already hurting and recruit more fighters. Recent messages from the groups express a mix of concern as well as bravado, stating that the virus is a punishment for non-Muslims while also urging Muslims to take care of themselves and their health.
On Tuesday, al-Qaeda released a statement urging non-Muslims to use time in quarantine to learn about Islam. The Islamic State extremist group, however, has been continuously launching attacks in a time of crisis and urged its followers to do so as well in its March issue of the al-Naba newsletter. COVID-19 has the potential to handicap all domestic and international security efforts against terrorism for the time being as countries focus more on the virus, allowing jihadists to prepare large scale terrorist attacks. In late March, IS extremists carried out a deadly assault against Chad’s military, killing at least 92 soldiers.