Names of 22,000 IS members leaked to news channel
LONDON—Tens of thousands of documents containing the names, addresses, phone numbers and family contacts of jihadists who joined the Islamic State (IS) group have been given to the United Kingdom’s Sky News, the broadcaster said on Wednesday.
Sky reported that a disillusioned former member had handed over the documents on a memory stick that had been stolen from the head of the IS internal security police.
The documents are forms that IS recruits had to fill out in order to be accepted into the organization, and contain information on nationals from 51 countries, the broadcaster reported.
“Sky News has informed the authorities about the haul,” the news channel wrote on its website. No comment was immediately available from Britain’s interior or foreign ministries.
Some of the documents reportedly contain the information of previously unknown jihadis in northern Europe, the United States and Canada, as well as North Africa and the Middle East, it said.
“This could be a massive development,” Chris Phillips, managing director of counterterrorism consultancy International Protect and Prepare Security Office, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“It shows how Isis is vulnerable to its own people turning against them… The potential for security services identifying unknown terrorists is greatly enhanced,” he said, using another term for IS.
He added that the leak could inspire others to turn against the group, that the documents could be used in future prosecutions, and that they could help stop a flow of volunteers traveling to join IS from Europe and the United States.
“Understanding how people have traveled and who recruited them, is a key opportunity to reduce those leaving in the future,” Phillips said.
Copies of the documents broadcast by Sky News showed that recruits would have to answer 23 questions, including on their blood type, mother’s maiden name, “level of sharia understanding” and previous experience.
Some of the names in the documents are of fighters who have been already identified, such as Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a former rapper from west London who once posted an image of himself on Twitter holding a severed head.
Another named is Junaid Hussain, a cyberoperative for IS from the British city of Birmingham, and 21-year-old Reyaad Khan who appeared in a recruitment video. Both were killed last year.
The documents were obtained from a man who uses the name Abu Hamed, a former Free Syrian Army member who joined IS.
He stole the memory stick of documents and handed them over in Turkey to a journalist, explaining that he left because Islamic rules had collapsed inside the group.
Hamed claimed the group had given up on its headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa and was moving into the desert, and that former soldiers from the Iraqi Baath party of executed dictator Saddam Hussein had taken over.
Olivier Guitta, managing director of international security and risk firm GlobalStrat, said the leak was a boost to security services and indicated unhappiness within the group.
“This leak shows that there are dissenting voices within the ranks of IS,” he told AFP. AFP
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