Members of the Islamic State have reportedly attempted to use the coronavirus pandemic to their advantage, increasing propaganda and attacks, a United Nations counter-terrorism official announced Monday.
Since ISIS reportedly began to rally in Syria and Iraq this year, there has been an increase in threats made to conflict zones and a decrease in threats to peaceful zones experiencing coronavirus related lock-downs and restrictions, Head of the U.N. Office of Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov said.
The coronavirus pandemic has reportedly made it difficult to continue counter-terrorism operations, though Voronkov said he is unsure how ISIS’s recruitment and fundraising endeavors have changed under the group’s new leader, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla.
“This pandemic environment raises several strategic and practical challenges for counter-terrorism, which we discussed during the Virtual Counter-Terrorism Week organized by my Office last month,” Voronkov said.
“#ISIL & other terrorist groups seek to exploit the far-reaching disruption & negative socio-economic & political impacts of the pandemic. Strengthening collective action & intl #counterterrorism cooperation must remain a priority during & after the pandemic”, USG Voronkov https://t.co/mTI3Fl82Kf pic.twitter.com/sJ0qjPdfZw
— United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (@UN_OCT) August 24, 2020
ISIS has reportedly regained control over parts of the Middle East, “operating increasingly confidently and openly,” Voroonkov said. He predicts that over 10,000 fighters move freely in small groups between Iraq and Syria. (RELATED: ‘We Should All Be Concerned’: US General Says The Islamic State Is Rebuilding In Syria)
“The global threat from ISIL is likely to increase if the international community fails to meet this challenge,” Voronkov said, adding that “opportunistic propaganda efforts” by ISIS could be behind the increase in reported attacks.
The coronavirus pandemic has reportedly destabilized several thousand people supposedly connected to ISIS, including women and children, Voronkov said. Countries are reportedly attempting to send children back to their home countries but are running into legal, political, and practical problems.
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