IS advises followers to avoid Europe, wash hands as 'God-sent plague' coronavirus sweeps continent

IS advises followers to avoid Europe, wash hands as 'God-sent plague' coronavirus sweeps continent
The Islamic State group has ordered its operatives to avoid heading to Europe, which has been hit by a "plague sent by God".
2 min read
15 March, 2020
The Islamic State group has advised its followers to wash their hands regularly [Getty]

The Islamic State group [IS] has issued a travel advisory for its operatives, ordering them to avoid travelling to coronavirus-hit Europe, which it described as "the land of the epidemic".

The directive, which was issued via the extremist group's  Al-Naba newsletter, backtracks on years of exhortations to its followers to travel to and attack European cities.

"The healthy should not enter the land of the epidemic and the afflicted should not exit from it," the newsletter says.

It added that its followers should wash their hands regulalry, as most health authorities around the world have advised.

In addition to World Health Organization guidance on the global pandemic, the IS group also said that its operatives should cover their mouths when sneezing and yawning and seal off water containers.

Read more: Islamic State's advice for fighting coronavirus: 'Put your faith in God'

"There is one night in the year when pestilence descends, and it does not pass by any vessel that is not covered or any waterskin that is not tied up, but some of that pestilence descends into it," the newsletter read, quoting a Hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad).

The militant group has lost virtually all of the territory it once held across Syria and Iraq, and is now confined to small pockets in the eastern Syrian desert.

Syria has so far not reported any COVID-19 cases, however its health authorities have been severely impacted by the civil war, and the authoritarian Assad regime may not have disclosed the full extent of the spread inside Syria.

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