How Islamists are exploiting Covid-19

Jihadist groups say this is a golden opportunity to unleash waves of lethal terror.

Rakib Ehsan
Columnist

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Topics Politics UK USA World

While most look on a crisis like this with worry, and view it as a challenge to be overcome, there are extremists who consider troubling times to be a golden opportunity.

Under the Covid-19 global pandemic, the UK is faced with its worst health crisis for generations. Indeed, its gravest social challenge in the postwar period. The current death toll in the UK stands at 335, and will rise exponentially in the coming weeks and months. But where there is a crisis, there is opportunity for some.

Islamists across the world – both abroad and closer to home – are exploiting the Covid-19 crisis to pursue their extremist objectives and spread hate. Looking to take advantage of the uncertainties and insecurities brought on by this deadly virus, which we still know relatively little about, Islamists of different shades feel they have been given a boost.

This initially began with the peddling of the classic Islamist theory that viruses are a punishment from God. The fact that this new virus broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan was used to push the narrative that God was punishing China for the systematic oppression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Elsewhere, Salafists in the Middle East and North Africa labelled the new coronavirus a ‘Soldier of God’ that was targeting disbelieving infidels who follow the ‘godless’ ideology of communism or Buddhist philosophy. This is despite the fact that this supposed Soldier of God has now claimed the lives of people in Sunni-majority countries such as Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Morocco.

The Covid-19 pandemic is also being integrated into Islamists’ anti-Western worldview. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, refused American assistance for the country’s coronavirus outbreak, peddling a completely unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus might have been manufactured in the US, and that medicinal supplies offered by the US could be designed to exacerbate Iran’s health crisis. At the time of writing, coronavirus has cost the lives of nearly 2,000 people in Iran.

This follows the suggestion made by Hossein Salami – the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards – that the new coronavirus was a US-made biological weapon designed to fundamentally weaken Iran as well as China.

In neighbouring Iraq, notorious cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has also said that any US-made vaccine should be rejected. Sadr added that he and his supporters would only depend on God for the treatment of diseases. It is quite remarkable that such ‘leaders’ are using Covid-19 to fuel anti-American sentiment and spread their extremist hate against non-Muslims – including those who are offering medical resources to tackle the new coronavirus.

There are also indications that Islamic State is revving up its jihadists. According to this bloodthirsty death cult, this is the perfect time to pounce and unleash deadly acts of terror in countries such as the UK. In an editorial produced in its weekly newspaper, Al-Naba, titled ‘The Crusaders’ Worst Nightmare’, ISIS members are encouraged to step up their efforts and exploit the West’s preoccupation with the Covid-19 pandemic. As security services and national armies are ‘stretched’ to help government efforts to tackle outbreaks, Western countries are perceived to be ‘restricted’ in terms of fighting jihadists abroad – meaning the conditions are ideal for them to ‘strike’. Terrorist organisations view these troubling times as a golden opportunity to unleash waves of lethal terror.

The Covid-19 pandemic serves as a timely reminder of the extreme lengths taken by sinister radical Islamists to exploit and weaponise human misery in the name of their warped fundamentalist ideology. This ranges from peddling ludicrous conspiracy theories designed to exacerbate anti-Western sentiment to framing deadly viruses as a deathly punishment from God to punish the ‘enemy’. And so, utterly consumed by their hatred of non-Muslims, clerics are rejecting the offer of medical help for their affected populations.

At the most severe, these troubling times demonstrate how national crises and perceived social panic in the Western world whet the appetite of jihadist terrorists, who are deperate to cause untold misery and suffering through deadly acts of terror.

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. Follow him on Twitter: @rakibehsan.

Picture by: Khamenei.ir, published under a creative-commons licence.

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Comments

Chris Burosh

26th March 2020 at 9:36 pm

Thank you all! I’m really glad I went surfing today!
Really nice ebb and flow.
Big waves! Small waves! Funny waves!
By the way, I’ve never done any actual surfing. Just web!
I almost drowned as a boy, and I’m not a good swimmer.
I tend to sink. No boueyancy!
Nevertheless, today I will keep my head just above the water while I dog paddle to shore!

Joseph Adam-smith

26th March 2020 at 8:43 pm

“The current death toll in the UK stands at 335, and will rise exponentially in the coming weeks and months.” Er, no. Check the facts. 12 died yesterday. 43 the day before. Total as of today’s date, 26/03/20 477. Many people are immune – like in ALL viral infections. Whilst the death toll ILL rise over the next couple of weeks, it will slow down. Like all scare stories (remember the Swine flu scare – up to 69k will die in the UK? Less than 200 died.) this is just that. a scare story. Compared to flu? It’s no different, overall.

Asif Qadir

25th March 2020 at 3:36 pm

You filthy, goat-farking scumbag. I already told you that l is a wake-up to you.

Asif Qadir

25th March 2020 at 3:39 pm

We also know that anyone like you has been inculcated in diabolical horseshyte from the get-go, so l can’t begin to imagine where you get the front to be spewing it all over us in a Western society.

Asif Qadir

25th March 2020 at 3:52 pm

We have zero interest in goat-farker stuff. We know you all to be kuunts. Lying. Kuuunts. And here you attempting to pass urself off as the benign side of the death-cult. ..as if it’s compatible with any other society outside of a goat-pharqueing shytehole.

Asif Qadir

25th March 2020 at 3:58 pm

Fark off back to ur ethnic shytehole now that you’ve abused the West in this way…actually, it’s quite ironic that you’re probably thicker than if you hadn’t got an education here. Fark off and support the people from your own ethnicity that ckuld probably actually make some positive use of what you’ve become.

Just fark off no matter what..ur a farking imbecile and a menace.

Asif Qadir

25th March 2020 at 4:11 pm

Dodgy Geezer

24th March 2020 at 5:03 pm

“This initially began with the peddling of the classic Islamist theory that viruses are a punishment from God.”

Well, actually, ALL the Abrahamic religions feel that typical Western vices such as homosexuality should be punished. Fundamentalist Christians and Jews would probably agree with the Muslims here….

“….this is the perfect time to pounce and unleash deadly acts of terror in countries such as the UK…..”

Er…the perfect time to unleash a deadly act of terror is in the middle of a crowd of people, where your suicide bomb will gather the maximum number of victims.
At the moment, you might be able to blow up one man walking his dog. But you won’t find many crowds. Though I suppose the London Tube trains are a current exception…

brad evaristo

24th March 2020 at 3:56 pm

nicee

giday giday

24th March 2020 at 6:55 pm

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Jeremiah Johndon

24th March 2020 at 3:52 pm

They don’t want our help, fine.
Let them congregate at mass prayers, even better

pamela james

24th March 2020 at 12:27 pm

I am making a good pay from home 1900 Buckets/week, that is brilliant, beneath a
year agone i used to be unemployed amid a monstrous economy. I pass on God consistently i used to be invested these bearings, and at present, I should pay it forward and impart it to everyone, ­w­w­w.ic­a­s­h­6­8.c­o­m­

Joyful Cynic

24th March 2020 at 11:07 am

This sounds harsh but extremists rejecting help will just enforce natures rule of survival of the fittest – more of them will be infected and die ultimately weakening them, while those that accept help will become stronger.

Morona Virus

24th March 2020 at 10:51 am

So, where is God in this pandemic? Assuming that he is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good, presumably he will gift us a vaccine tout suite. Then again, why would he allow corona in the first place?

That is a problem for the religions and the response is generally to say that it is in some sense our “fault”, we “did it” and we need to “cope” with it. Because otherwise God would be to blame and that is just not on. Either that, or he does not exist.

Or he is some other kind of God, like that of the Epicureans and the deists. He really is not that bothered what goes on and he does not judge us or get involved. Creation, maybe, but no providence.

The three Semitic religions are providence religions, God intervenes in the world. Yet they claim that he (and it is always a he) is “all-” this and that. Corona and natural disasters, “evil” generally is a real problem for them.

Some people from each of those three religions have tried to blame corona on humans; the sinners, the apostates, those with the wrong religion, those with none, and of course the gays. Sex can always somehow be blamed. “Sex, that is why!”

The theological response to corona is basically to say that everyone should convert to their religion, which is the only right one, and to obey its laws. Corona happened because people have not all done that.

And behold, corona proves that religion is true, because it is in some sense a punishment for our incredulity and disobedience. We are to blame and we need to get religion, “get God”. Either that or the religions are nonsense, which is why corona happens without any contradiction.

We are to blame or God does not exist, at least not any God in the sense of any of the providential religions. No wonder that the followers opt to blame us. It is implicit in the whole providence issue.

“God exists, and he is just. And it was us that done it. So convert.” All religions “exploit” disasters. They really have no other option.

KATHLEEN CARR

24th March 2020 at 12:22 pm

After Adam & Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden they had to make their own way in the world ie they had free will – However God kept interfering every so often , which is a bit contradictory-but that’s God for you.

Morona Virus

24th March 2020 at 12:43 pm

So, we are being punished for something that we did not do, that someone else did, Adam and Eve. The “original sin”. We were born guilty of something that happened before we were even born and over which we had no possible control whatsoever.

God allows disasters to happen because a talking snake seduced Eve in the garden to try a forbidden apple. God is still “all-good” etc. because we deserve corona, it serves us right for being descended from a woman who got taken in by a talking snake and ate a forbidden apple.

“But that’s God for you.” Indeed. Complete nonsense.

T Zazoo

24th March 2020 at 3:13 pm

It’s a great gig being God. You get all the praise for the good stuff. Praise be to God !
But the bad stuff, that’s our fault.

KATHLEEN CARR

24th March 2020 at 5:19 pm

Though the moral certainty of right and wrong , punishment and redemption ( which informs a novel like Jane Eyre) is absent from most British Christian religions nowadays which is why the churches have poor attendence and Islam has gained converts. Most of the people of the world are religious, it is atheists who are unusual.

Lyn Keay

24th March 2020 at 10:19 am

While the novel features of the Sars-Cov-2 virus show it is of a natural origin, it will ring true with many in Iran that the USA would engineer a virus aimed at them. After all , as McAfee says the Stuxnet computer virus that crippled their nuclear industry “appeared to have been created by the U.S. National Security Agency, the CIA, and Israeli intelligence”. Computer viruses, assassination and drone strikes appear to be a tool of American warfare against Iran. In turn, ISIS and Islamist militias are Iranian tools of warfare.

James Knight

24th March 2020 at 7:26 pm

And in the US some right wingers are blaming the Chinese.

I suspect the tin foil hats are selling out faster than toilet roll.

Jerry Owen

24th March 2020 at 8:37 am

The islamists can peddle as many myths as they like. As long as they are not bombing concerts running people over and shooting them I couldn’t care less.
Conspiracy theories never travel far just look at David Icke.

Melissa Jackson

24th March 2020 at 9:28 am

You should see what Islamists have to say about the international Jewish conspiracy…

At a minimum, Jihadis are primed to believe how evil the West is (just like citizens of the USSR were) and live in an Arabic speaking world with an Arabic press who at a minimum sympathise with the Islamist cause. The only non-sympathetic media is from regimes like the Saudi government who the Islamists will never ever trust.

I’m just saying… Conspiracy theories are more powerful than you might think in their world.

Danny Rees

24th March 2020 at 1:48 pm

Indeed. There is a huge line between peddling mystical sky fairy bollocks and blowing people up.

Neil McCaughan

24th March 2020 at 3:00 pm

Not in mohamedanism’s case there isn’t.

Mike Stallard

24th March 2020 at 8:20 am

Question: I am a paid up Christian. How do you know that God does not punish Chinese for their appalling arrogance to the Uighurs?
Religion and non religion too are often dogmatic. Just assuming makes an ass of you and me…

PS This is a real problem actually: If you were a loving God, would you inflict Covid19 on the world? There are christian answers which i find convincing myself. But I am not sure the Muslim ones are actually that good: “What He knows, we know not” and “The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”

KATHLEEN CARR

24th March 2020 at 10:22 am

Well in The Old Testament God was always visiting plagues of frogs or the like on people if He was not happy

steven brook

24th March 2020 at 7:17 am

“would only depend on God for the treatment of diseases” yep that should work! I would also encourage them to trust in God when crossing the road.

James Conner

24th March 2020 at 8:04 am

I plan to market a Faith Parachute for Muslim skydivers.

John Kemp

24th March 2020 at 10:25 am

…agree with both of the above.

jessica christon

24th March 2020 at 7:10 am

“… Muqtada al-Sadr…”

Is this the “young” cleric who was public enemy number one for a while in the Iraq war? If so, he has my sneaking admiration just for the fact that he’s still around.

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24th March 2020 at 5:59 am

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Gordon der Gopher

24th March 2020 at 2:28 am

Actually I reckon the mumus have it about right. I’m gonna self isolate inside a cave till an angel comes and tells me I can leave. Just need to get my hand on a generator to run my PS4 in case I get bored waiting for Gabriel.

L Strange

24th March 2020 at 1:54 am

Well at least the Jihadis will be impeded by the lack of people out and about now. Bit hard to unleash the ‘truck of peace’ or similar when it’s driver would be reduced to trundling about the roads looking for non-existent crowds.

L Strange

24th March 2020 at 1:58 am

As for Iran, Iraq etc., if they wish to reject any vaccine or treatment that’s developed, leave them to it.

Gordon der Gopher

24th March 2020 at 2:22 am

The Darwin Award 2020 goes to Mo and his mates.

Geoff W

25th March 2020 at 8:22 am

It is the Christians in Nigeria and the people of the Sahel who will feel this backlash at present.

I despair at the narrow view of Islamic jihad that only recognises these jihad attacks if they happen on our doorstep. Read The Religion of Peace [dot] com or Jihad Watch for the daily updates on these attacks.

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