A priceless cache of documents containing the details of 22,000 ISIS jihadists in Syria and Iraq has been seized, it has been revealed.
The treasure trove of data for Western security services battling the terror group contains the names, addresses, telephone numbers and family contacts of recruits.
Former UK intelligence chiefs described the documents as the ‘biggest breakthrough in years’ in counter-terrorism. It is believed to be the biggest ISIS intelligence haul uncovered.
Experts believe the files could be invaluable in tackling jihadists who have sneaked back into Europe intent on bringing bloodshed to the streets in ‘enormous and spectacular’ attacks.
In a major coup for the West, a memory stick stolen from an ISIS leader by a disgruntled recruit was obtained by Sky News. The details it contains are understood to be authentic.
Recruits from at least 51 countries, who travelled to the region to join the murderous terror organisation – notorious for its brutality, including beheadings, crucifixions and massacres – were ordered to give up their most sensitive information.
Details were logged on an extraordinary induction form.
Only when a recruit had filled in the 23-question registration card were they allowed into the group.
Questions on the form included date of birth, marital status, previous jobs, who recommended them, if they had fought before, what role they would take – for instance, ‘fighter’ – and any ‘specialist skills’.
The forms even includes contact details for next of kin. Many of the names on the registration cards are well known.
They include Abdel Bary, a 26-year-old from London who joined ISIS in 2013 after visiting Libya, Egypt and Turkey. He is designated as a fighter but is better known in the UK as a rap artist.
The son of convicted terrorist Adel Abdul Bary, he was pictured in August last year holding the severed head of a captured Syrian army soldier who had been executed.
Another jihadi named in the documents is Junaid Hussain, a computer hacker from Birmingham who was head of ISIS’s media wing. Along with his wife, former punk Sally-Anne Jones, he plotted attacks against the UK.
He was killed after being targeted in a drone strike last August. His jihadi widow, known as ‘Mrs Terror’, has been put on a government list of the most dangerous British recruiters for ISIS.
The major breakthrough from the documents is the revealing of the identities of a number of previously unknown jihadis in the UK, northern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, the United States and Canada.
Their whereabouts are crucial to breaking the organisation and preventing further terror attacks.
Richard Barrett, a former MI6 global terrorism operations director, said the files could prove to be the ‘biggest breakthrough in years’ in the counter-terror fight.
Many of the recruits passed through jihadi ‘hotspots’ such as Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
One of the files is marked ‘Martyrs’ and details a brigade manned entirely by fighters who wanted – and were trained – to carry out suicide attacks.
Some of the telephone numbers on the list are still active and it is believed that although many will be family members, a significant number are used by the jihadis themselves.
The files were passed to Sky News on a memory stick stolen from the head of ISIS’s internal security police, an organisation described by insiders as the group’s SS.
He had been entrusted to protect the organisation’s core secrets and he rarely parted with the drive. The man who stole it was a former Free Syrian Army convert to ISIS who calls himself Abu Hamed.
Disillusioned with the Islamic State leadership, he says it has now been taken over by former soldiers from the Iraqi Baath party of Saddam Hussein.
He claims the Islamic rules he believed in have totally collapsed inside the organisation, prompting him to quit.
He told Sky News that ISIS was giving up on its headquarters in Raqqa and moving into the central deserts of Syria and ultimately Iraq, the group’s birthplace.
Asked if the ISIS files could bring the network down he nodded and said simply: ‘God willing’.
Experts believe that ISIS is refocusing its base of operations abroad and is intent on carrying out high-profile attacks in Western countries, instead of radicalising vulnerable and mentally-ill people to carry out ‘lone wolf’ strikes against soldiers and police officers.