Tens of thousands of documents containing 22,000 names, addresses, phone numbers and family contacts of jihadis who joined the Islamic State (IS) group have been given to the UK's Sky News, the broadcaster said 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 group's internal security police.
The documents are forms that IS group recruits had to fill out in order to be accepted into the organisation, 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.
What appeared to be the same documents were also obtained by German intelligence, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported.
A spokesperson for the BKA, the German federal police, confirmed that the agency was in possession of the documents, adding that experts had determined their authenticity, the newspaper said.
However, some experts have raised doubts over the documents obtained by Sky. Wassim Nasr, FRANCE 24’s expert on jihadist movements, said that there were certain inconsistencies in the documents’ language and layout that could point to falsified information.
“Perhaps certain information is authentic but the layout of the documents has been altered in order to sell them at a high cost to different buyers,” he said on Twitter.
But if verified, the leak of the documents would be a “massive development”, according to Chris Phillips, managing director of the counterterrorism consultancy International Protect and Prepare Security Office.
"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 told AFP, using another term for the IS group.
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 travelling to join the IS group from Europe and the US.
"Understanding how people have travelled and who recruited them, is a key opportunity to reduce those leaving in the future," Phillips said.
'Blood type, fighting experience'
Copies of the documents broadcast by Sky News showed that recruits had 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.
The documents were obtained from a man who uses the name Abu Hamed, a former Free Syrian Army member who joined the IS group, said Sky News.
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. "Like in any large organisation, there will be fight for power and one could see down the road a potential breakup of IS into various factions."
There have been previous leaks of documents from the IS group, which have shown the group to be extremely bureaucratic, with rules covering every aspect of life.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2016-03-10