The head of Iraqi Military Intelligence, Lt. Gen. Saad al-Allaq has said senior members of ISIS are plotting mass prison breaks and a resurgence of terror after taking refuge in Turkey.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Saad al-Allaq said 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.
“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.
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.
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.
“Some of its important leadership fled north, I mean in the direction of neighboring countries and into border areas like Gazientep,” he said.
“They have secretly crossed into these areas from the Syrian-Turkish border — top leaders who have money. They crossed with the help of smugglers by paying large amount of money and have secretly entered Turkish territory.”