Leaked documents containing personal details of 22,000 Islamic State fighters marks an intelligence breakthrough in the fight against the organization.
The documents were originally obtained by Germany’s intelligence agency and later leaked to a number of news outlets in Germany and the United Kingdom. German authorities confirmed the authenticity of the documents Thursday, and called it a massive breakthrough in exposing ISIS’s strategies.
“We are better able to understand the structures of this terror organization and use it to discourage any young radicalized individuals,” Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said.
The list identifies fighters from 51 countries, including four Americans. The information is based on 23 questions each recruit has to answer when joining the organization, and contains addresses, family contacts and job titles of the fighters.
The interviews are believed to have taken place in Raqqa, Syria, where it now seems ISIS has its own human resources department. Another key finding is that each recruit is tied to the member who “recommended” them, which could expose patterns in recruitment strategies.
“It shows how ISIS is vulnerable to its own people turning against them,” Chris Phillips, managing director of counter terrorism consultancy International Protect and Prepare Security Office, told news agency AFP. “The potential for security services identifying unknown terrorists is greatly enhanced.”
The details can also be used as evidence against foreign fighters returning home. Many fighters have gotten away with mass murder due to a lack of evidence against them, but de Maiziere hopes the documents will make for “speedier, clearer investigations and stricter prison sentences.” (RELATED: ISIS Fighters Returning To Europe Get Away With Murder, Even When They Confess)
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