Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
Tens of thousands of documents, containing 22,000 names, addresses, telephone numbers and family contacts of members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have been leaked to the media by a disgruntled former Free Syrian Army fighter.
The documents, obtained by the British news channel, Sky News, have details of nationals from at least 51 countries, who had to give up their most personal information as they joined the terror organisation.
The documents showed that only when the 23-question form was filled in were they inducted into ISIS, to which Nigeria’s Boko Haram owes its allegiance.
It is not immediately clear how many Nigerians are on the lists and their identities. But its on record that the Nigerian security agencies have intercepted some Jihad sympathisers attempting to travel out of the country to join ISIS.
The Department of State Service (DSS) recently announced the arrest of a major ISIS recruiter and his allies in the country.
The report however revealed that a lot of the names and their new ISIS names on the registration forms are well known, including Abdel Bary, a 26-year-old from London, who joined in 2013 after visiting Libya, Egypt and Turkey.
Bary is designated as a fighter but is better known in the UK as a rap artist. His whereabouts are unknown.
Another jihadi named in the documents, now dead after being targeted in a drone strike, is Junaid Hussain, the head of ISIS’ media wing who, along with his wife, former punk Sally Jones, plotted attacks in the UK. Her whereabouts are also unknown.
In the same vein, Reyaad Khan from Cardiff, who joined the terror group in 2013, was among those in the registration forms. He was well known for appearing in some highly produced ISIS propaganda videos but believed to have been killed.
The major breakthrough from the documents was the revelation of the identities of a number of previously unknown jihadists in the United Kingdom (UK), across northern Europe, much of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the United States and Canada.
Their whereabouts are crucial to breaking the organisation and preventing further terror attacks.
Many of the men infiltrated through a series of jihadi “hotspots” – such as Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan – on multiple occasions, but were apparently unchecked, unmonitored and able to enter Syria to fight and then to return home.
One of the files marked “Martyrs” detailed a brigade manned entirely by fighters who wanted to carry out suicide attacks and were trained to do so.
Some of the telephone numbers on the list are still active and it’s believed that although many may be with family members, a significant number are used by the jihadists themselves.
The files were passed to Sky News on a memory stick stolen from the head of ISIS’ 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 ISIS leadership, Hamed said it has now been taken over by former soldiers from the Iraqi Baath party of Saddam Hussein.
He claimed that the Islamic rules he believed have totally collapsed inside the organisation, prompting him to quit.
Asked if the ISIS files could bring the network down, he nodded and said simply: “God willing”.
From the attacks in Tunisia and the Bataclan massacre in Paris, it is clear that ISIS is refocusing its base of operations abroad and is intent on carrying out high-profile attacks in Western countries, something that security chiefs across Europe are warning about right now.
Recently, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, in Damboa, Borno State, released another list of 100 suspected members of the terror sect, Boko Haram, wanted for various act of terrorism in the country.
The army late last year published the first set of 100 suspected members of Boko Haram wanted by the Nigerian state.
Buratai appealed to the public to volunteer information that would assist in the arrest of terrorists, adding that many terrorists on the first list of wanted terrorists were identified and arrested.
He said the new list was for the members of the public to identify and report their whereabouts so that they could be brought to justice.