The New York Post is taking a rumor seriously:
Islamic State fighters are no match for Ebola.Th story is also being taken seriously by Breitbart and The Weekly Standard, by Britain's Daily Mail and Express, by the Christian Post, and by Conservativebyte.com ("a member of the Liberty Alliance").
The World Health Organization is investigating whether some ill jihadists have contracted the killer disease, two sources at the agency told The Post.
Agency officials are checking if there are Ebola patients at a Mosul hospital 250 miles north of Baghdad, sources said.
Al-Sabah, an Iraqi pro-government newspaper, reported this week that the fighters were being treated for Ebola, while some of their comrades have come down with HIV brought by foreign extremists “coming from many countries, particularly those in Africa.”
There's more skepticism at Gawker and Mashable and Mediaite and Britain's Independent. The Independent tells us:
Reports that Isis fighters in Iraq have contracted Ebola have been refuted as “incorrect” and “unfounded” by the country’s health ministry....Mashable adds:
He said the disease could not have been registered, as only the Central Laboratory of Public Health in Baghdad has the “diagnostic capabilities” to confirm cases of Ebola....
The World Health Organisation also confirmed that they had received no confirmation of Ebola cases from Iraq.
... Ebola symptoms -- nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding and bruising -- are also similar to those associated with a number of other diseases, including malaria, Lassa fever, yellow fever viruses and the Marburg virus. Also, most confirmed Ebola cases in this recent outbreak have originated in West Africa....In addition to the reasons given above, I'm skeptical because Mosul is ISIS controlled. How are reports about ISIS fighters and their diseases getting to pro-Iraqi government news sites from Mosul? ISIS might want you to believe that it has weaponized Ebola, but not that some of its fighters have been taken ill and hospitalized with Ebola (and HIV).
While ISIS has recruited foreign fighters, very few of them -- if any at all -- are believed to have traveled from West Africa.
The majority of the Islamic State's African fighters came from Tunisia, according to a Washington Post report. Others came from Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan and Somalia -- none of which reported any Ebola cases in 2014.
This seems to be pro-Iraq disinformation meant to discredit ISIS. But is it also aimed at the U.S. market, or is it just a happy coincidence that the reports dovetail so nicely with the scare stories American wingnuts told us back in the fall about Ebola-infected ISIS terrorists slipping across the Mexican border?
The news outlets where this story originated, Al-Sabah, isn't just pro- Iraqi government -- it was started by the U.S. after the fall of Saddam:
The Iraqi government’s daily newspaper, Al-Sabah (The Morning), was established almost immediately after Coalition forces occupied the country. The United States government hired a contractor, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), to establish major media outlets in Iraq. With their technology and expertise, SAIC founded the Iraqi Media Network (IMN).... The IMN began to fund Al-Sabah.... Al-Sabah’s first issue came out on May 17, 2003, but within months the newspaper experienced a dramatic shakeup which put it more under the control of Iraq’s temporary government, the Coalition Provisional Authority.Staffers who wanted to be part of a more independent news source left Al-Sabah in 2004.
SAIC’s contract in Iraq ended in early 2004 and the Pentagon awarded a second contract in January to the Harris Corporation in order to bolster the Iraqi Media Network.... When the Harris Corporation officially took over the Iraqi Media Network from SAIC in February, it sought to make Al-Sabah a permanent component of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the future Iraqi government. This aspiration became explicit on March 20, 2004, with CPA Order No. 66, which declared that the IMN was to be the public service broadcaster for Iraq. This cemented Al-Sabah’s role as spokesman for Coalition forces and for the future Iraqi government, and it destroyed any hope maintained by Al-Sabah’s staff that it might become an independent newspaper once Iraq regained its sovereignty....
Al-Sabah is currently one of the most widely read and successful newspapers in Iraq, but it has had to overcome a series of hurdles to improve its reputation, which suffered from allegations that it was a propaganda tool. From its birth, a great number of Iraqis considered Al-Sabah to be the mouthpiece of the United States and the Coalition forces. It routinely avoided publishing negative stories about Coalition forces and about horrific events which were happening in Iraq. Iraqi perceptions of Al-Sabah and the rest of the Iraqi Media Network’s programs improved tremendously however when it was placed under the authority of the Iraqi Interim Government in the summer of 2004. Despite the new-found trust which the newspaper is establishing with the Iraqi public, it is still seen by many as a symbol of the occupation.I think it's most likely that Al-Sabah is interested solely in helping the Iraqi government -- but it's curious that a newspaper established by America's Republican Party is putting out a story that precisely echoes recent Republican propaganda.