Did Sky News receive the “biggest Islamic State intelligence haul” ever this week?
Sky News reported yesterday that it received 22,000 IS personnel files from an embittered ex-terrorist, “on a memory stick stolen from the head of Islamic State’s internal security police”. Outlets like the Daily Mail picked up the story — a journalist’s goldmine. The haul sure sounded bountiful: rosters of fighters, questionnaires on how wannabe martyrs snuck into the Islamic State, where they came from; apparently solid documentation on the demographics and dreams of the ultraviolent group.
Sky hasn’t published these documents in full online. Instead, the outlet took photos of transcriptions. Oddly, the IS members Sky highlights were already known to the public, like propagandist Junaid Hussain.
Even odder, this “exclusive” doesn’t seem to be all that original. Overlapping intel has been available online for over a year.
“All the outlets/agencies that have claimed these documents as exclusives come from a single source based in Turkey who has been shopping himself around as a purported IS defector,” researcher and Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi told Gizmodo. “By the way, at least one prominent American newspaper turned him down for reasons of refusal to pay to obtain documents.”
While several journalists are reporting that Syrian news outlet Zaman al-Wasl first published a similar trove of IS personnel documents on Tuesday of this week, that information has been on a publicly available website since at least January 2015.