Recovered documents from the Islamic State terror group reveal that more than one in ten of their recruits would like to become suicide bombers.
A group of analysts at West Point who spent many hours sifting through thousands of leaked documents have found that 12 percent of Islamic State recruits are open to making the ultimate sacrifice as suicide bombers.
In March, German intelligence obtained a cache of Islamic State documents, revealing the names of 22,000 ISIS fighters including many foreign recruits hailing from Europe, Australia and the United States. The documents were reportedly leaked by a former Free Syrian Army fighter who switched over to fight for the Islamic State.
The leaked files reveal that some 10 percent of the militants hail from Western countries, with 128 jihadists from France, 80 from Germany and 57 from the UK.
The most common countries of provenance, however, were Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, with 797 and 640 recruits respectively.
Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, confirmed the authenticity of the documents and their usefulness for counterterrorism forces. Maizière said the discovery would facilitate “speedier, clearer investigations and stricter prison sentences” for fighters returning from Syria and Iraq. He also said that the documents help elucidate “the underlying structures of this terrorist organization.”
The files contain the names, nationalities, addresses, telephone numbers and other personal details of jihadists who joined the terrorist network in 2013 and 2014. According to the analysts, two thirds of the ISIS recruits are between the ages 21 and 30, though ages range from the teens all the way to a 70-year-old father of five from Kyrgyzstan.
The analysts said the find was the largest and “most significant” document cache of its kind, and furnished new insight into the terror group’s ambitions, structure and recruitment.
“The largest takeaway from these documents is the massive diversity of the population,” Brian Dodwell, deputy director of the Combating Terrorism Center at U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The only thing all the recruits had in common was their deep attachment to Islam.
“We’re talking about very diverse backgrounds from an education perspective — individuals who list their education as none up to those who listed their educations as PhDs, masters degrees, MBAs … Everything from laborers to doctors and lawyers,” Dodwell said.
Questionnaires filled out by new recruits contained a variety of queries, including whether they wanted to be a regular fighter or a suicide bomber or suicide fighter. Given the options, approximately 12 percent checked the box for martyrdom.
This percentage of willing martyrs is reportedly lower than from among the foreign fighters who joined Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, more than half of whom volunteered to blow themselves up.
“While they do need some suicide bombers, if all of their troops selected into the suicide category who would be left to fill that conventional army? Who would be left to serve as the Sharia officials, the police or the administrative?” Dodwell said.
“They’re selling this narrative of victory and sustaining… Many of these individuals it would seem are buying into that message and are going into there to live — not die.”
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