International terrorist organizations are encouraging new members infected with the novel coronavirus to become “jihad soldiers” and spread the flu-like respiratory disease as much as possible in public places, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ anti-terror unit said.

Andrei Novikov, chief of the CIS’ Anti-Terrorism Center, told the Russian news agency TASS on Monday that terrorist groups are also using the outbreak of the novel coronavirus as an opportunity to recruit new members.

“While governments are trying to ensure health security, focusing on protecting the lives and health of their people, recruiters of international terrorist groups are not just taking advantage of the difficult situation in order to recruit more ‘jihad soldiers,’ they are calling on infected members to spread COVID-19 as wide as possible in public places, state agencies and so on,” Novikov was quoted by TASS as saying.

Novikov said the intelligence form a psychological threat.

“Accordingly, countries that have effective systems to control the epidemiological situation, identify the infected and treat the sick are in the best position,” he said.

The Commonwealth of Independent States is a political, economic and military affiliation of countries, born out of the dissolution of the old Soviet Union with nine member states, from Armenia to Uzbekistan, one associate state, Turkmenistan, and two observer states, Afghanistan and Mongolia.

The report by TASS follows more than three months after Islamic State issued guidance to its members in a newsletter to “stay away from the land of the epidemic.”

ISIS’ March al-Naba newsletter included a full-page infographic of tips of how to stop the spread of the virus, advised to “put trust in God and seek refuge in Him from illnesses” and avoid areas under ISIS control.

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