They chanted death to America. They promised to spill the blood of our countrymen. They prayed for the chance to challenge the American military.
Now, the Islamic State is so paranoid and desperate to hide from the U.S. Air Force, they’ve begun turning on each other.
In March, a senior commander with the Islamic State group was driving through northern Syria on orders to lead militants in the fighting there when a drone blasted his vehicle to oblivion.
The killing of Abu Hayjaa al-Tunsi, a Tunisian jihadi, has sparked a panicked witch hunt within the group’s ranks for spies who could have tipped off the U.S-led coalition about his closely guarded movements. So far, the group has killed 38 of its own fighters on the suspicion of acting as informants.
They were among dozens of ISIS members killed by their own leadership in recent months in a vicious purge after a string of airstrikes killed prominent figures. Others have disappeared into prisons and still more have fled, fearing they could be next as the Islamic terror group turns on itself in the hunt for moles, according to Syrian opposition activists, Kurdish militia commanders, several Iraqi intelligence officials and an informant for the Iraqi government who worked within ISIS’ ranks.
The fear of informants has fueled paranoia among the militants’ ranks. A mobile phone or internet connection can raise suspicions. As a warning to others, ISIS has displayed the bodies of some suspected spies in public — or used particularly gruesome methods, including reportedly dropping some into a vat of acid.
ISIS “commanders don’t dare come from Iraq to Syria because they are being liquidated” by airstrikes, said Bebars al-Talawy, an opposition activist in Syria who monitors the jihadi group.
Over the past months, American officials have said that the U.S. has killed a string of top commanders from the group, including its “minister of war” Omar al-Shishani, feared Iraqi militant Shaker Wuhayeb, also known as Abu Wahib, as well as a top finance official known by several names, including Haji Iman, Abu Alaa al-Afari or Abu Ali Al-Anbari.
In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the biggest city held by ISIS across its “caliphate” stretching across Syria and Iraq, a succession of militants who held the post of “wali,” or governor, in the province have died in airstrikes. As a result, those appointed to governor posts have asked not to be identified and they limit their movements, the Iraqi informant told The Associated Press. Iraqi intelligence officials allowed the AP to speak by phone with the informant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for his life.
The bloody purge comes at a time when ISIS has lost ground in both Syria and Iraq. An Iraqi government offensive recaptured the western city of Ramadi from ISIS earlier this year, and another mission is underway to retake the nearby city of Fallujah.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said some ISIS fighters began feeding information to the coalition about targets and movements of the group’s officials because they needed money after the extremist group sharply reduced salaries in the wake of coalition and Russian airstrikes on ISIS-held oil facilities earlier this year. The damage and the loss of important ISIS-held supply routes into Turkey have reportedly hurt the group’s financing.
“They have executed dozens of fighters on charges of giving information to the coalition or putting (GPS) chips in order for the aircraft to strike at a specific area,” said Abdurrahman, referring to ISIS in Syria.
The militants have responded with desperate methods of their own for rooting out spies, said the informant. For example, they have fed false information to a suspect member about the movements of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and if an airstrike follows on the alleged location, they know the suspect is a spy, he said. They stop fighters in the street and inspect their mobile phones, sometimes making the fighter call any unusual numbers in front of them to see who they are.
After the killing of al-Anbari, seven or eight ISIS officials in Mosul were taken into custody and have since disappeared, their fates unknown, said the informant.
“Daesh is now concentrating on how to find informers because they have lost commanders that are hard to replace,” said a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Baghdad, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. “Now any ISIS commander has the right to kill a person whom they suspect is an informer for the coalition.”
Another Iraqi intelligence official said at least 10 ISIS fighters and security officials in Mosul were killed by the group in April on suspicion of giving information to the coalition because of various strikes in the city.
Mosul also saw one of the most brutal killings of suspected informants last month, when about a dozen fighters and civilians were drowned in a vat filled with acid, one senior Iraqi intelligence official said.
In the western province of Anbar, the Iraqi militant Wuhayeb was killed in a May 6 airstrike in the town of Rutba. Wuhayeb was a militant veteran, serving first in Al Qaeda in Iraq before it became the Islamic State. He first came to prominence in 2013, when a video showed him and his fighters stopping a group of Syrian truck drivers crossing Anbar. Wuhayeb asks each if he is Sunni or Shiite, and when they say Sunni, he quizzes them on how many times one bows during prayer. When they get it wrong, three of them admit to being Alawites, a Shiite offshoot sect, and Wuhayeb and his men lay the three drivers in the dirt and shoot them to death.
After Wuhayeb’s killing, ISIS killed several dozen of its own members in Anbar, including some mid-level officials, on suspicion of informing on his location, and other members fled to Turkey, the two intelligence officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
Some of the suspects were shot dead in front of other ISIS fighters as a lesson, the Iraqi officials said.
After the Tunisian militant Abu Hayjaa was killed on the road outside Raqqa on March 30, ISIS leadership in Iraq sent Iraqi and Chechen security officials to investigate, according to Abdurrahman and al-Talawy, the Syria-based activist. Suspects were rounded up, taken to military bases around Raqqa, and the purge ensued. Within days, 21 ISIS fighters were killed, including a senior commander from North Africa, Abdurrahman said.
Dozens more were taken back to Iraq for further questioning. Of those, 17 were killed and 32 were expelled from the group but allowed to live, Abdurrahman and al-Talawy said, both citing their contacts in the militant group. Among those brought to Iraq was the group’s top security official for its Badiya “province,” covering a part of central and eastern Syria. His fate remains unknown.
Non-ISIS members are also often caught up in the hunt for spies. In the Tabqa, near Raqqa, ISIS fighters brought a civilian, Abdul-Hadi Issa, into the main square before dozens of onlookers and announced he was accused of spying. A masked militant then stabbed him in the heart and, with the knife still stuck in the man’s chest, the fighter shot him in the head with a pistol.
Issa’s body was hanged in the square with a large piece of paper on his chest proclaiming the crime and the punishment. ISIS circulated photos of the killing on social media.
According to al-Talawy, several other ISIS members were killed in the town of Sukhna near the central Syrian city of Palmyra on charges of giving information to the coalition about IS bases in the area as well as trying to locate places where al-Baghdadi might be.
Sherfan Darwish, of the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces, which has been spearheading the fight against ISIS in Syria, said there is panic in ISIS-held areas where the extremists have killed people simply for having telecommunications devices in their homes.
“There is chaos. Some members and commanders are trying to flee,” Darwish said.
The U.S. -led coalition has sought to use its successes in targeting ISIS leaders to intimidate others. In late May, warplanes dropped leaflets over ISIS-held parts of Syria with the pictures of two senior militants killed previously in airstrikes. “What do these Daesh commanders have in common?” the leaflet read. “They were killed at the hands of the coalition.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article
Randy Jackson says
Nice—-carry on you paranoid crazy freaks of nature!
John Randall says
America is doing the same thing . Did you see where they fired the guy for flying the flag at half mast in memory of a fallen soldier.You see where thr firing the Top Brass in our Military, Over here you dont get shot, even worse you get fired.
Jeffrey Courtney says
Why would you infer that there is no distinction between someone being fired in America and the horribly killing of someone in acid by ISIS?! You have a sickness.
Arthur Hartsock says
This is the best news out of the Middle East in a long time. I just hope these ISIS crazies are good shots when they aim at each other.
Couldn’t happen to a better group of people…
Linda Rowlett says
will save us money ads our soldeirs.
Bellport Bob says
May they ROT!
Love -it!!!! Your time is UP you bunch of KILLERS, RAPIST, RUN SCARED…….HIDE……WE WILL FIND YOU!!!!!!!!!
Marilynn Reeves says
For those that flee no problem,Obummer will let them come to America,give them benefits and let them start killing over here.
Obummer will not be the only evil ass hole to let ISIS in !!! Hillary will give them a green card and a job!! She is as evil as ISIS She is a scum bag as well as a murdering lying no trusting Idiot. But To our Troops keep up the good work take ISIS out then go in after Hillary!!!
What usually happens is this: the ones doing the killings are actually the betrayers. What better way to hide your perfidy than to be the executioners?
But with “flying-spot microscope” tech(or it’s improvement), spy satellites and listening posts are likely working together to identify and eliminate these guys – there may actually BE no spies at all.
Nevertheless, that they’re killing each other means that there are fewer of them to kill Christians and other innocents.
M. Veerman says
I love this good news. I hope it is true! This way we save our own soldiers. MAY GOD BLESS THE USA!!!!!!!!!!!
M. Veerman says
I love this good news! Hope it is true, so we save our soldiers. MAY GOD BLESS THE USA!
Justin W says
ISIS is a an evil movement. Like all demonic movements, they eventually begin destroying themselves. I’m glad to see that ISIS is now turning on its own. With the death of each of these demon-possessed murderers the world becomes a little safer.
Ronald F. Litke says
Just MORE PROOF that there is NO HONOR amongst thieves, deceivers, murder’s etc . As with American Mob’s of old or the Mafia,…. they killed each other off over power and territory. Doesn’t pay much overall now does it??? Me-thinks that is what will happen to the Clintons as some people with conscience will finally expose the Clinton’s for “Who” they actually are in principle and deeds. This former SS Operative just might be a good spearhead to open the doors into the private live’s of these two “so-callled Invincibles”.
A look into the actual life and advisory input with this Judge Trump is complaining about and his possible ties to La Raza should make some interesting answers too. Just a guess on my part. Google La Raza and this Judge and see what you can find out. Might be interesting.
Man oh man! That should just do wonder for recruiting! I can see it now. “Kill the American pigs!” “Rape unbelieving women!” “Get thrown into a vat of acid when your buddies think that you informed on them!”
GOD IS ON THE THRONE AND IN CONTROL. Keep at it you SICK FREAKS OF NATURE
until you’ re all wiped off the face of the earth. May you reap all the evilness you have sown upon innocent victims. Have a good trip on your way to HELL.
Lynn Hoyt says
This is not the first time
Lynn Hoyt says
Remember Judges 7, where God defeated the Midianites by filling them with fear of the Midianites, and they turned on each other and slaughtered each other, or the Six day war, where Israel’s enemy “heard” a huge multitude of Israelis, and turned around and fled.
i’m right partial to the OT story of a king who came to beseige Jerusalem with a multiple hundred-thousand man army; they set up camp, and the next morning, the only one left alive was the king.
Can you imagine your reaction if you were that king, waking up and calling for your retinue to attend to you?
Never discount the power of the Almighty.
Why didn’t we think of this before? They’re so internet savvy, just plat some incriminating evidence in somebody’s account, and they’ll kill each other FOR us? what are we wasting bombs on them?
Just keep the bombs going over there, just in case….. Make it bombing rounds 24/7. Them turning on each other isn’t enough. Once we’ve got the scourge running we need to finish it up.
If they themselves do not care of life or what life they take…… collateral damage, why should anyone else who gets into the fight…