Coping with Coronavirus Series
A Persistent Challenge: ISIS in the Time of Coronavirus
Date: 05 May 2020
Time: 1100h - 1230h CET
Online: Zoom Platform
Online Streaming Available here
The set of global crises linked to COVID-19 continues to preoccupy decision makers around the world—eclipsing many other, pressing issues such as countering radicalisation and terrorism. Sensing opportunity, some of the more entrepreneurial groups have adopted postures and behaviours that reflect the times. This expert discussion builds on our previous event Terrorism in the Time of Coronavirus by looking at the so-called Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There remains a significant number of active ISIS clusters strewn across the Middle East, Africa, Central, South and East Asia and, indeed, in Europe. In the first quarter of 2020, ISIS has increased the frequency and ferocity of its operations in Iraq, Syria, the Maldives, Mozambique and Afghanistan (etc), it attempted — but was fortunately interdicted — to attack a US military facility in Germany and has launched an important propaganda campaign portraying COVID-19 as a ‘soldier of Allah’ sent to punish ‘unbelievers.’ Much like right-wing extremist literature in the US and Europe, the ISIS narratives surrounding COVID-19 have been successful in pulling-in new recruits; bolstering its numbers through false prophecy propagation. In short, ISIS during COVID-19 poses both a kinetic, and a more subtle, challenge in that its cyber caliphate continues to expand.
The Euro-Gulf Information Centre (EGIC) organised an expert discussion dealing with ISIS and COVID-19 scheduled for: 05 May 2020, 11:00h to 12:30h (CET).
Some of the questions that were raised on this panel were:
• What impact does the pandemic have on ISIS and its affiliates globally?
• Is COVID-19 somehow changing its behaviour?
• What impact does COVID-19 have on recruitment of new members?
• With the coming post-COVID-19 economic crisis, how will the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis play out with the group?
• What weaknesses could be exploited to prevent ISIS from a resurgence in Iraq and Syria?
1. Michael Krona, Assistant Professor and Senior Researcher at Malmö University, Sweden. Has worked on Islamic State media and propaganda since 2014 and is the co-editor and author of “The Media World of ISIS”.
2. Inga Kristina Trauthig, Research Fellow at ICSR (International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation) and a doctoral candidate at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.
3. Seth Frantzman, author of the recent book After ISIS, is the executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and covers Middle East affairs for The Jerusalem Post.
Moderation was carried out by: Sofia Barbarani, Freelance Journalist, Conflict and Humanitarian Reporting in the Middle East