As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread worldwide, ISIS has told its fighters that they should run away from sick people as if they were running away from a lion, according to its latest al-Naba newsletter.
"Oh God I seek refuge in You from leprosy, madness, and from the malaise of illnesses," said the newsletter, translated by Aymen Jawad Al-Tamini, which provides a list of "directives to deal with epidemics."
Although the newsletter urged ISIS fighters to ultimately seek refuge in God, the tips include:
- Avoiding people who are sick. "Flee from the one afflicted with leprosy as you flee from the lion," it said.
- Stay away from countries affected by the outbreak, or remain in place since coronavirus is only going to affect the infidels. "Whosoever dwells in his land patient and awaiting as the plague falls," the newsletter said. "Knowing that it will only strike the one for whom God has decreed, for that person is the likes of the reward of a martyr."
- Cover your face when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands. "When one of you wakes from his sleep, let him not dip his hand into the vessels until he washes it three times, for he does not know where his hand spent the night," the newsletter said.
- You can view the full translation here.
Admittedly, at least some of the tips aren't completely off base — washing your hands and covering your mouth are common sense, though the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization have offered better guidance to people on how to protect themselves from coronavirus.
More specifically, the CDC recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or to use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. People should also avoid touching their face with unwashed hands, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and put some distance between themselves and others if coronavirus is spreading in their community.
Coronavirus continues to spread worldwide
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has spread to more than 120 countries since it was first detected in Wuhan, China earlier this year.
There have been nearly 132,000 cases reported and nearly 5,000 deaths from the virus worldwide, according to The World Health Organization, which declared a pandemic on March 11.
"In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. "We’re in this together, to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It’s doable."
Iran has been among the countries most affected by the virus' spread, with more than 10,000 cases reported. Its neighbor Iraq has so far had 70 reported cases.
An ISIS resurgence?
The release of a new ISIS newsletter comes days after two Marine special operators were killed in a heavy gun battle with the militant group about 40 miles southwest of Erbil, Iraq.
Although ISIS lost its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to an American special operations raid in October, and has lost much of its territorial "caliphate," the group has reconstituted its ranks in recent months, and has carried out low-level attacks and has maintained its freedom of movement in rural areas where there is less presence of Iraqi security forces.
"ISIS retains enough manpower and planning capabilities to conduct regular small-scale attacks or ambushes against ISF, the PMF, or local civilians accused of aiding the ISF or informing on ISIS activities," U.S. military officials reported to the inspector general.