ISIS fighters in Syria are battling against rival Syrian rebel groups, as well as against United States and allied air strikes. But ISIS may now be dealing with another new threat — Ebola. According to a little-seen report out of Israel, dozens of ISIS fighters in Syria have fallen ill, displaying symptoms that seem an awful lot like those exhibited by victims of the deadly virus that has now killed more than 3,300 people in West Africa.
The report comes from the Israeli News Agency, a site which claims to be Israel's first internet-based news organization and has been in operation since 1995. The INA says that it is accredited by the Israeli government and "clears all news items relating to Israeli security with the Israel Government Press Office."
Which makes the report of the ISIS Ebola epidemic interesting, because the site attributes the claims to "Israeli security sources."
"We know that ISIS has training camps in Africa and it is highly possible that this is where contact with the disease was made," one source the Israeli News Agency identifies only as "Avi," who is "a global anti-terrorism consultant," told the site. "This would add new meaning to the US stating that no boots would be on the ground, as both missiles and Ebola penetrates one of the worst evils the world has ever known."
Of course, Africa is a large continent and the current Ebola outbreak, the worst in recorded history, is concentrated in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Whether the alleged ISIS training camps in Africa are in any of those three countries is not clear.
If indeed Ebola is running rampant through the ISIS ranks in Syria as the Israeli report claims, it could deal a severe blow to the ability of the Islamic radical paramilitary group to stave off the military threats it faces on a daily basis.
But the ISIS-Ebola report out of Israel, published on Monday, has already ignited a new conspiracy theory — a theory claiming that ISIS plans to send Ebola-infected militants into the U.S. to spread the disease.
The theory is problematic because, as the site Shoebat.com acknowledges, "by the time a would be martyr came to America, the symptoms of ebola would be conspicuously displayed on his person and he would be too sick to get passed[sic] customs."
Ebola is not contagious until an infected individual displays symptoms. By the time that happens, without treatment, the patient usually has just days to live and would likely feel so ill that traveling around to deliberately spread the disease would be extremely difficult.
Shoebat.com adds that ISIS could use infected bats to spread the disease. But that also seems like an ineffective strategy because unlike in Guinea, bats in the U.S. are not often eaten as food, which is likely how Ebola was first spread in Guinea.