Senior members of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) are plotting mass prison breaks and a resurgence of terror after taking refuge in Turkey, according to the head of Iraqi Military Intelligence.
Lt. Gen. Saad al-Allaq told CNN in an exclusive interview that Iraq had handed dossiers on nine alleged terror leaders to Turkey. The subjects included top financiers with access to “huge” amounts of money to fund operations around the world, he said.
And recent communications from ISIS point to plans to try to break prisoners out of camps and jails across Syria and Iraq, al-Allaq said. al-Allaq said ISIS leaders are planning jailbreaks to get manpower to relaunch the terror group.
“Huge international efforts should be taken to deal with this issue because these criminals … are able to leave these camps and go back to their countries and thus they pose great danger in countries like Europe, Asia and northwest Africa,” al-Allaq said.
US State Department warns ISIS grew and evolved worldwide as it lost territory in Syria
There are an estimated 10,000 alleged ISIS fighters including many foreign nationals in custody under the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria. A nearby camp holds 70,000 women and children. Each has been described by the US as a “ticking time bomb,” even after the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and some of his deputies.
Al-Allaq rarely gives interviews. The intelligence he has on ISIS figures emerged during a wide-ranging discussion about Iraq’s role in finding al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a raid by American troops in October.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is seen in an undated handout image provided by the US Department of Defense. Al-Allaq worked closely with the CIA on the campaign against ISIS and continues to provide intelligence used to target its remaining leadership.
The general said senior ISIS figures known as “emirs” have access to enormous amounts of cash and were forming new cells in Turkey. They escaped from ISIS’ last stand in Baghouz in eastern Syria earlier this year and bribed their way through SDF lines to relative safety in Gazientep in southern Turkey, he said.