Intelligence agencies study cache of supposed Isis documents
Agencies admit much of the information in the thousands of papers is out of date
A video grab obtained in London from footage released by Sky News shows printed documents arranged for a report on a cache of leaked documents allegedly containing the personal details of some 22,000 Islamic State jihadists.
British, US and German intelligence agencies are looking for potential leads in thousands of documents purporting to list Islamic State volunteers, while admitting that much of the information has been overtaken by events and that many of those named are dead.
The documents are questionnaires for would-be recruits to Islamic State, also known as Isis, listing their real names, their fake names, who introduced them, their countries, experience of jihad, education, date and place of birth, date of arrival in Syria, route, phone number and family.
News of the documents was first broken by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday evening. Some analysts yesterday cast doubt on the authenticity of the documents, pointing out mistakes and uncharacteristic language, although both British and German intelligence agencies said they had no reason to believe they were fake.
The fate of the Britons backs up what intelligence analysts have long been saying: that foreign recruits with no military experience are often thrown into the front-line or used as suicide bombers or given high-visibility propaganda roles that make them targets for drone strikes.
The three British intelligence agencies – MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – are still working their way through the cache to assess the value and significance of the hoard.
Süddeutsche Zeitung said it was offered documents several weeks ago by someone seeking a large payment in return. The paper declined and sent its own reporters to the region, in particular Iraqi Kurdistan, where it said dozens of similar documents were available from Kurdish fighters and Isis members.
Sky News on Wednesday expanded on the German paper’s story, saying it had tens of thousands of documents containing 22,000 names of Isis volunteers.
Sky said they had been passed on by a former Free Syrian Army convert to Isis, calling himself Abu Hamed, who had become disillusioned. It said he had stolen the documents, held on a memory stick, from the head of Isis’s internal security police. – Guardian service