Washington: Wives of top Islamic State leaders, including its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, play an important role in passing information to one another and then to their spouses to avoid electronic intercepts, according to a media report.
American intelligence agencies have extracted valuable information about the Islamic State’s leadership structure, financial operations and security measures by analysing materials seized during a Delta Force commando raid last month that killed the terror group’s leader Abu Sayyaf in eastern Syria, the New York Times reported quoting US officials.
The information harvested from the laptops, cellphones and other materials recovered from the raid on May 16 has already helped the US identify, locate and carry out an airstrike against another Islamic State leader in eastern Syria, on May 31.
New insights yielded by the seized trove — four to seven terabytes of data, according to one official — include how the organisation’s shadowy leader Baghdadi, operates and tries to avoid being tracked by coalition forces.
Wives of the top Islamic State leaders, including Baghdadi’s, play a more important role than previously known, passing information to one another, and then to their spouses, in an effort to avoid electronic intercepts, the report said.
Baghdadi meets periodically with regional emirs, or leaders, at his headquarters in Raqqa in eastern Syria, it said. To ensure his safety, specially entrusted drivers pick up each of the emirs and demand that they hand over their cellphones and any other electronic devices to avoid inadvertently disclosing their location through tracking by American intelligence, the officials said.
“I’ll just say from that raid we’re learning quite a bit that we did not know before,” a senior State Department official was quoted as saying.
Abu Sayyaf’s wife, Umm Sayyaf, who was captured in the operation, has also provided information to investigators, a senior American official said. The materials also gave away new details about how the Islamic State has allocated revenue from oil production. About half goes to the group’s general operating budget, the remainder is split roughly between maintaining the oil-field production facilities and for salaries to the workers, American officials said.
American counter-terrorism analysts have also learned new information about the Islamic State’s hierarchy. The military council of the terror outfit has a sub-group known as the Security Council, which is in charge of leading Islamic State assassinations, kidnappings, interrogations and other attacks, the report said quoting officials.