Swarms of U.S. intelligence analysts are flying to Iraq to review stacks of internal Islamic State documents expected to be recovered when the city of Mosul finally falls.
The Pentagon expects that Mosul, which ISIS has held since the summer of 2014, contains information that could lead to clues about future planned terror attacks in Europe and potentially the names of those associated with such attacks, The New York Times reports.
Intelligence information recovered from hard drives, cell phones and documents could also prove helpful in the upcoming attack on Raqqa, ISIS’s capital in eastern Syria.
“Clearly, there’s going to be intelligence that will be able to be exploited,” Army Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky said.
The U.S. has already been able to get an idea of ISIS’s internal leadership structure from intelligence picked up from Manbij, Syria, where ISIS was recently driven out. ISIS is known for maintaining careful records of its operations, and now coalition forces have fairly good background details on the tens of thousands of fighters who joined up with the terror group from around the world.
The reason the U.S. is sending a swarm of intelligence analysts over to Iraq now is because the data gathered in Manbij amounted to 20 terabytes. The data available from Mosul is expected to total far and beyond that figure, and processing that data takes a significant amount of time and energy.
“Whenever you liberate a city the size of Mosul, you can expect to get a tremendous amount of information,” said Air Force Col. John L. Dorrian, head U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, according to The New York Times.
Getting that information back to Europe is crucial. When ISIS finally loses all its territory in Iraq and Syria, the group is expected to shift to terror operations in Europe, using sleeper agents and radicals sympathetic to the group’s ideology, but otherwise unconnected to ISIS’s leadership.
As the operations against Mosul continue, hundreds of ISIS fighters have already fled the city and retreated to Syria, according to local tribal leader Sheikh Abdullah Alyawer.
A total of 772 ISIS fighters have been killed during the first week of fighting.
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