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Senior ISIS members planning mass prison breaks, Iraqi spy chief tells CNN

Head of Iraqi Military Intelligence Lt. Gen. Saad al-Allaq (Photo captured from CNN interview video)
2019-11-19

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SULAIMANI — Head of Iraqi Military Intelligence Saad al-Allaq has said that senior members of Islamic State (ISIS) are living in Turkey and are planning mass prison breaks in Iraq and Syria.

During an exclusive interview with CNN published on Monday (November 18), Lt. Gen. Saad al-Allaq cited intelligence gathered from communications that indicated that the group was planning operations to free captured ISIS fighters, which number in the thousands.

“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,” he told CNN.

In the past, former-prisoners have become senior leaders within the organization, including Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi, who spent time in the custody of US forces in Iraq. Prison-breaks have historically been a tactic of the group.

Allaq also warned that well-funded cells were being formed in Turkey by ISIS leaders, alleging that some had bribed their way through Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) lines out of the last remnant of the territorial caliphate and to the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep. 

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,” he told CNN.

CNN reported that Turkish officials had said they were looking into the allegations.

Approximately 10,000 ISIS fighters are in the custody of the SDF in Syria, along with thousands of their family members. Washington is pushing European countries to take their citizens back, but so far they have been reluctant to do so.

The vast majority, however, are Syrian and Iraqi citizens.

(NRT Digital Media)