18 March 2020 – Vancouver, CA

by Stewart Webb

The World Health Organization warned that the coronavirus is more of a threat than terrorism. And as the world hunkers down amidst the spread of the coronavirus, and the governmental warnings, ISIS has popped up with a warning on how to combat the pandemic.

ISIS Coronavirus Infographic

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi translated and posted an infographic on the Sharia directives to combat the pandemic which appeared in the latest issue the of al-Naba’ newsletter. The directives are similar to what have been urged already. Again for reference and attribution, these translations are taken from al-Tamimi’s blog:

Such as washing your hands:

“On the authority of Jaber bin Abdullah (may God be pleased with him): he said: I heard the Messenger of God (SAWS) saying: “Cover the vessels and tie the waterskin, for in the year there is a night when a disease descends, and something of that disease will descend on the vessel on which there is no covering, or waterskin that is not tied”- (narrated by Muslim).”

“The Messenger of God (SAWS) said: “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”- (muttafiq alayhi).”

Sneezing and Yawning:

“On the authority of Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him): he said: “The Messenger of God (SAWS) would place his hand or clothing on his mouth when he sneezed, and in this way reduced or diminished his voice”-(narrated by Abu Dawud)”

Staying away from those who appear sick:
“On the authority of Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him: the Messenger of God (SAWS) said: “And flee from the one afflicted with leprosy as you flee from the lion”- (narrated by al-Bukhari).”

Stay away from travelling:
“On the authority of A’isha (may God be pleased with her): she said: I asked the Messenger of God (SAWS) about the plague so he informed me that it is a “torment sent by God on whomsoever He wills, and God has made it a mercy for the believers. Whosoever dwells in his land patient and awaiting as the plague falls, 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”- (narrated by al-Bukhari).”

Not the only terrorist group providing health care

Governments look after their citizens’ needs, unless they are unable to. If there is an insurgent, or terrorist, group, this might mean that that group is attempting to provide that service and more than likely others that would include education and judicial services.

The reality is that modern, well-organized terrorist groups have already provided medical assistance to affected populations for decades. Terrorist groups linked with al-Qaeda helped support the relief effort when, in 2005, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck in Kashmir and killed over 75,000 people.

According to Levy and Scott-Clark, “…fuelled the re-emergence of seventeen extremist groups previously banned by Musharraf (and the US and Europe) or placed on Pakistan’s terrorist watch list.”[1] Two of these groups were, of course, Lashkar-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). In fact, LeT had opened up a field hospital that was headed by Dr. Amir Aziz Khan, who has links to both al-Qaeda and Bin Laden and was arrested in October 2002.[2] These two groups were responsible for the Indian Parliament attack in 2001 and LeT was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

When confronted by Financial Times, in 2005, concerning how terrorist groups were assisting the Kashmiri populace, then Pakistani President General Musharraf stated that: “Since [the jihadis] are there, certainly we would not like them to stop. Why should we not allow our own people who are going there and assisting…whether they are jihadis or anybody?”[3] LeT and JeM did enjoy support from the Pakistani government in the past, but this is the quagmire for other governments as well -how to take back legitimacy from these groups that are providing a level of governance when they have not been able to.

Groups such as ISIS, al-Shabaab, Hamas, Hezbollah, LeT have created a level of governance when they are not the legitimate governing authority. LeT ran clinics and even madrassas in Pakistan that taught English and Science to its pupils. These were funded through charities and donations. Of course, the Taliban has been doing so with the territories that they control, but oddly the Afghan government has found ways with providing services with and through the Taliban. For instance, the Afghan government has been funding schools and hospitals that are under the Taliban’s control. These schools have been running under the Afghan government’s national curriculum. But there have been reports that the duality of responsibility has failed the hospitals.

Currently, both the Taliban and the Afghan government are working, in whatever way they can, to combat COVID-19. While others involved in the Israeli/Palestine conflict are hoping that COVID-19 may spring another olive branch of a truce.

Hopefully, what this click-bait article fulfilled the objective that it was meant to. Modern-day terrorist/insurgent groups are likely to run social services to gain legitimacy with the local population. Obviously this can create harsh boundaries between the government and non-governmental organizations that are trying to help a population under the control of these groups. It also allows these groups to gain followers and support. This is where counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism operations have this grey area where either you assist those groups to help the people or deny aid or launch attacks on those groups which might harm the population you want to help and gain legitimacy over.

[1] Levy, Adrian and Catherine Scott-Clark. 2007. Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons. New York: Walker and Company, p. 438.

[2] Ibid, p. 438.

[3] Ibid, p. 438.



By Stewart Webb

The editor of DefenceReport and Senior Analyst, Stewart Webb holds a MScEcon in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and a BA in Political Science from Acadia University. A frequent guest on defence issues for CTV National News, and other Canadian media outlets, his specialities include commentary on terrorist/insurgent activity and Canadian defence issues. Stewart can be contacted at: [email protected]