The UN has warned that ISIS is plotting a fresh wave of attacks in the West after lockdowns have allowed them to regroup.
The terror group is becoming “brazen” and appear set to target their enemies while they are “weakened and distracted” by the pandemic.
A report, sent to members of the UN Security Council, says the terrorists are planning to exploit security gaps caused by the coronavirus.
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The Sun reports: It is feared that attacks could be launched as lockdown restrictions ease across the globe.
And security experts believe a worldwide recession could aid ISIS in growing the organisation.
The UN report states: “ISIL (ISIS) has had a captive audience during the lockdown and, if it has successfully used this for planning and recruitment purposes, it is possible that the easing of restrictions in non-conflict zones will see a spike in attacks once targets become available again.”
The number of attacks in Iraq and Syria has “increased significantly” in 2020, compared with the same period last year, according to the UN.
But experts believe travel restrictions and limits on large public gatherings have meant the terror group has lacked potential targets during lockdown.
They feel curfews and restrictions imposed by Member States may have “disrupted terrorist planning” and “reduced the number of potential targets globally”.
The report adds: “The impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic on terrorism has varied between conflict zones and non-conflict zones and between short- and longerterm threats.
“Groups are using the outbreak to advance propaganda and fundraising and, in some regions, are seeking to take advantage of perceptions that the attention of security forces is diverted elsewhere.
“At the same time, the pandemic has made crossborder travel more difficult and targets more elusive, and the operational tempo of attacks has slowed discernibly in some regions.
“Should the pandemic lead to a severe global recession, the international community may be faced with further headwinds in countering terrorism and extremist narratives.”
The report also notes the “silence” of ISIS’s new leader, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, which “may prove a limiting factor in his influence and appeal, and perhaps that of the group”.
ISIS previously branded coronavirus “a soldier of Allah” and vowed to launch attacks on the US and the UK.