ATbar ISIS in the Age of COVID-19 - From Islamizing the Pandemic to Implementing the Jihadist Strategy

ISIS in the Age of COVID-19 - From Islamizing the Pandemic to Implementing the Jihadist Strategy

03/05/2020 | by Maor-Hirsh, Sigalit  

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The COVID-19 pandemic currently engulfing the world has been claiming over 228,000 human lives to date, significantly slowed down global economy, and introduced social, governmental, and security-related uncertainties in various countries. The pandemic, rather how to best handle it, is now occupying every government in the world. That said, the question of how to properly respond to the pandemic has not been ignored by terrorist organizations or guerrillas, Islamic State (ISIS) included.  In various media publications by ISIS, the argument made was that the pandemic was critical, destructive, and of epic proportions[1]. At the same time, the pandemic is perceived by ISIS as a global threat, a divine command, and as an opportunity for the organization to renew its attacks – especially against the West.

Since March 2020, an article or a feature discussing the pandemic has been published in the organization's weekly Arabic-language publication, Al-Naba. From these articles and features, we can learn about the narrative that is developing within the organization regarding the pandemic and how the group frames it in a way that serves its needs and conducive to achieving its goals. An analysis of these articles reveals three key narratives that have emerged over the past two months:

  • Framing the discourse: Islamization of the pandemic
  • Humanization of the believers in the Caliphate and demonization of the West
  • Exploitation of the crisis in order to implement the ISIS strategy.
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