1. Islamic State defector brings ’goldmine’ of details on 22,000 supporters
Published: 13:50 GMT, 10 March 2016 | Updated: 13:50 GMT, 10 March 2016
By Guy Faulconbridge
LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) - A disillusioned former member of Islamic State has passed a stolen memory stick of documents identifying 22,000 supporters in over 50 countries to a British journalist, a leak that could help the West target Islamist fighters planning attacks.
Leaks of such detailed information about Islamic State are rare and give Britain’s spies a potential trove of data that could help unmask militants who have threatened more attacks like those that killed 130 people in Paris last November.
A man calling himself Abu Hamed, a former member of Islamic State who became disillusioned with its leaders, passed the files to Britain’s Sky News on a memory stick he said he had stolen from the head of the group’s internal security force.
On it were enrolment forms containing the names of Islamic State supporters and of their relatives, telephone numbers, and other details such as the subjects’ areas of expertise and who had recommended them.
One of the files, marked "Martyrs", detailed a group of IS members who were willing and trained to carry out suicide attacks, Sky said.
Richard Barrett, a former head of global counter-terrorism at Britain’s MI6 Secret Intelligence Service, said the cache was "a fantastic coup" in the fight against Islamic State.
"It will be an absolute goldmine of information of enormous significance and interest to very many people, particularly the security and intelligence services," Barrett told Sky News.
Sky said it had informed the British authorities about the documents which were passed to its correspondent, Stuart Ramsay, at an undisclosed location in Turkey.
Western security sources said that if genuine, the files could be gold dust as they could help identify potential attackers and the networks of sympathisers behind them, and give insight on the structure of the group.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the documents, given their provenance. A selection of them was published in Arabic.
Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and the Oct. 31 downing of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt’s Sinai region that killed 224. They have promised more attacks on the West and Russia.
Western leaders say Islamic State, which has proclaimed a caliphate in the parts of Syria and Iraq it controls, now poses a greater danger to the West than al Qaeda. It uses a militant interpretation of Islam to justify attacks on its foes and the use of extreme violence, including rape and beheadings, against those it sees as infidels.
The defector, a former Free Syrian Army fighter who switched to Islamic State, said the group had been taken over by former soldiers from the Iraqi Baath party of Saddam Hussein, who was ousted in 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Some of the defector’s Arabic documents, posted on the Zaman Al Wasl Syrian news website, were forms issued by "Islamic State in Iraq and Sham, the General Directorate of Borders" and displayed personal details of each fighter, according to a review of some of the documents by Reuters.
The forms included answers to 23 questions such as assumed name, birthplace, education level, extent of Sharia learning and previous jobs, as well as details about the individuals’ journey to Islamic State and whether they were potential suicide bombers or more traditional fighters.
When asked for his view of the documents, Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at London’s Royal United Services Institute, said in an emailed response: "It seems a bit dated."
"Very interesting though and a real gift for researchers into understanding the group more," he added. "The key for me in many ways is how this highlights the bureaucracy of the organisation once again - kinda like al Qaeda in fact."
(Additional reporting by Estelle Shirbon in London and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
2. 22,000 alleged Islamic State militants identified in registration forms
By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author | March 10, 2016 at 8:23 AM
The names, addresses, telephone numbers and family contacts of about 22,000 alleged IS militants have been revealed after registration forms were leaked to German intelligence and British media. Illustration by Oleg Zabielin/Shutterstock
LONDON, March 10 (UPI) — About 22,000 alleged Islamist militants who joined the Islamic State have been identified after the militant group’s registration forms were leaked to German intelligence and British media.
The names, addresses, telephone numbers and family contacts of IS militants who registered when they joined the Islamic State were revealed in a flash drive to Sky News delivered by a "disillusioned convert to the group."
Nationals from at least 51 countries were found in the thousands of documents. At least 16 fighters were from Britain, four from the United States and six from Canada. Several recruits are from Germany and France.
Questions in the registration forms asked recruits if they had any previous experience in jihad and whether they were prepared to become suicide bombers. A spokesperson for the BKA, the German federal police, confirmed the agency had possession of the documents, but did not reveal how many IS militants were identified nor how the agency received the documents.
3. Germany: Files listing ISIS fighters are authentic
Thousands of documents identifying 22,000 supporters of ISIS in over 50 countries were handed over to Sky News by a disillusioned former member of the group, the British television channel reported on Thursday. (Reuters/Sky News)
The Associated Press, Berlin Friday, 11 March 2016
Last Update: Friday, 11 March 2016 KSA 09:36 - GMT 06:36
Thousands of files have surfaced with personal data on members of ISIS - documents that might help authorities track down and prosecute foreign fighters who returned home after joining the extremists, or identify those who recruited them in the first place.
Germany’s federal criminal police said Thursday they are in possession of the files and believe they are authentic.
The announcement came after Britain’s Sky News reported it had obtained 22,000 ISIS files that detail the real names of fighters for the group, where they were from, their telephone numbers and even names of those who sponsored and recruited them. In a joint report, Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Munich and broadcasters WDR and NDR reported independently Monday they had obtained “many dozens” of pages of such documents itself.
“This is a huge data base - there are more than something like 22,000 names, so this is very, very important,” said Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck, a research analyst at the Carnegie Middle East Center.
She said the files would “definitely” help international security services, including those in Arab countries, to confirm the identities of those who have already left to fight for ISIS, to discover the identities of new fighters, and to help them in identifying those who return home from Syria and Iraq.
Sky said the files, obtained at the border between Turkey and Syria, were passed to them on a memory stick stolen from the head of the extremist group’s internal security police by a former fighter who had grown disillusioned with the group.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the German broadcasters reported they also had obtained the files on the Turkey-Syria border, where they said ISIS files and videos were widely available from anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters and members of ISIS itself.
The documents highlight the bureaucratic work of the highly secretive extremist group that has spread fear through its brutal killings and deadly attacks in its self-declared caliphate of Syria and Iraq, as well as in places like France, Turkey, Lebanon, Yemen and Libya.
The information could help the US-led coalition that is fighting the militant group by aiding in a crackdown on the extremists’ foreign fighter networks, said US Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the coalition.
He said that while he was not able to verify the documents, he hoped that “if there is a media outlet that has these names and numbers, I hope they publish them.”
That would help bring attention to the problem of foreign fighters joining ISIS and also would help authorities to crack down on the problem, he said.
“This would allow the law enforcement apparatus across the world to become much more engaged and begin to help do what we can to stem this flow of foreign fighters - so we’re hopeful that its accurate and if so we certainly plan to do everything we can to help,” he said.
Both Sky and Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported the documents were forms with 23 questions to be filled out by recruits when they were inducted into ISIS. Sky said they included nationals from at least 51 countries, including the US and Britain.