Islamic State calls COVID-19 God's punishment for foes - tape
CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State (IS) said the coronavirus pandemic was divine punishment for its enemies, according to an audio broadcast on Thursday, where the jihadists also vowed more attacks. The person on the tape, which was posted on one of the militants' websites but could not be verified by Reuters, identified himself as IS spokesman Abu Hamzah al-Quraishi. 'God, by his will, sent a punishment to tyrants of this time and their followers ...
CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State (IS) said the coronavirus pandemic was divine punishment for its enemies, according to an audio broadcast on Thursday, where the jihadists also vowed more attacks.
The person on the tape, which was posted on one of the militants' websites but could not be verified by Reuters, identified himself as IS spokesman Abu Hamzah al-Quraishi.
"God, by his will, sent a punishment to tyrants of this time and their followers ... which can't be seen by the naked eye," he said, in an allusion to the COVID-19 disease.
"Today we are pleased for this punishment of God for you."
It was the Sunni Muslim group's third such tape since appointing Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi as new leader following the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria late last year.
Quraishi urged IS fighters "everywhere to prepare whatever strength they could and be as hard as they could on the enemies of God and to raid their places," according to the tape. "Don't let a single day pass without making their lives awful."
He gave no specific targets but mentioned countries where the group is active such as Syria and Iraq as well as western Africa.
IS has struggled to regroup and develop new strategy since the killing of Baghdadi. It lost its last significant piece of territory in Syria last year after already being defeated in Iraq.
The SITE Intelligence Group monitoring website said the tape looked authentic. "IS spokesman echoes jihadi sentiment of COVID-19 being divine punishment," it said.
(Reporting by Hesham Abdul Khalek, Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.