The Associated Press cites “Syrian opposition activists, Kurdish militia commanders, several Iraqi intelligence officials and an informant for the Iraqi government” as sources for a report that paranoid Islamic State leaders are butchering dozens of their own fighters on a hunt for spies.
ISIS has long been concerned with spies and routinely accuses its murder victims of espionage. In earlier times, it often portrayed these accused spies as pawns of Israeli intelligence.
According to the AP report, spy fever reached a new pitch after a series of drone strikes killed high-ranking members of the terror state. Beheadings have been supplanted by even more sadistic forms of execution, including a recent incident where accused spies were slowly dissolved in acid. Mutilated bodies have been put on display to send messages to the rank and file. Some accused turncoats have been executed in front of their own men.
ISIS fighters have been fed false information and executed by their leaders when coalition forces appeared to act upon it. Cell phones are routinely searched for suspicious numbers.
These purges have racked up a substantial body count. Coalition war planners can take some satisfaction in knowing that one drone kill can lead to dozens more casualties for the Islamic State as it sets about liquidating every fighter who might have ratted out the target’s location. The death of one ISIS leader, Tunisian militant Abu Hayjaa near Raqqa on March 30, led to almost 40 executions, plus 32 more fighters expelled from the Islamic State. Unfortunately, civilians have also been caught up in these purges.
The UK Daily Mail posted a video of one recent execution, a heavily-produced clip the Islamic State’s propagandists titled “A Lesson To Be Learned.” The Daily Mail’s clip is truncated before the gunshot:
Another video shows an alleged spy being prepared for crucifixion:
Paranoia has grown so heavy that ISIS leaders are said to fear crossing into Iraq from Syria, and the governor of the captive city of Mosul now prefers to remain anonymous, after airstrikes repeatedly vacated the position.
This is not mindless paranoia as there do seem to be a lot of moles working out of the caliphate. Indeed, the AP story is partially based on a phone interview with a spy for the Iraqi intelligence service, working somewhere inside the Islamic State.
One of the reasons suggested for the Islamic State’s loyalty issues is the economic campaign waged against it, with U.S. airstrikes targeting oil resources and cash drops, leading to chronic financial problems for ISIS fighters. Evidently, zeal to fight for the “caliphate” dries up when the plunder runs out.