Exclusively for SouthFront by J.Hawk
Western mainstream media have reported that a supposed ISIS defector and a former member of the Free Syrian Army has delivered a “treasure trove” of 20 thousand ISIS member names to Western intelligence services and a number of media agencies. This official version of events might well be true. But then again, it might not.
It is suspicious that the names were released to and published by media outlets like SkyNews which, in general, tend to defer to the preferences of their governments and intelligence services. From the perspective of intelligence work, one would not want to make a breakthrough like that known in the event you actually had that kind of intelligence information because it would “spook” the terrorist group’s members and make it more difficult to locate and/or approach them in the future. There have been many instances of mainstream media “burying” stories which the “powers that be” did not want publicized at the time. The fact that both the media and the intelligence services clearly want to publicize this story suggests there is more to the story than meets the eye.
One explanation is that it is a simply “psyop” operation by Western intelligence services who have not been above planting false stories in the Western media. The intent here would be to make it appear as if ISIS has no secrets any more, that it is collapsing from within, which would encourage actual ISIS members to start giving up and going home. In other words, the story is intended to serve as a “self-fulfilling prophecy” aimed at disintegrating ISIS at a time when the only anti-ISIS force making any genuine headway is the Russia-backed Syrian Arab Army which is poised to win the “race for Raqqa.”
The second explanation is that the Free Syrian Army or another opposition group is trying to score some propaganda points of its own by demonstrating its anti-ISIS usefulness (which in actuality is somewhere between zero and none) and to win a seat at the negotiating table. Moreover, the “name dump” may have been crafted to discredit the anti-Assad coalition’s political opponents–we have no idea whether the list is genuine, which allows for considerable disinformation on that score. The list could be used to give credence to Turkish and Saudi accusations that Syria and even Russia are propping up ISIS, for example. It could also be used to fan the anti-refugee hysteria in Europe in order to force the Europeans to back the preferred Turkish and Saudi “solutions” to the Syria crisis. By way of example, let’s keep in mind that the bulk of the “intelligence” that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq came from similar sources, who fabricated the intelligence with a specific purpose in mind. Therefore it is worth watching for any future stories that will emanate from this “name dump”, expecting the unexpected.
The third explanation is that we are dealing with a freelance “entrepreneur” who joined ISIS for money because they were paying him more than the FSA, and who crafted the “ISIS list” in order to make a few bucks now that ISIS is not paying him anymore. The fact that the Western intel services did not ask the media to hush up the story in order to make it easier for them to exploit the information suggests the list might be of limited intelligence value, however.
The fourth explanation is that we are looking at the early stages of the “Second Sunni Awakening”. It would mean that the ISIS-aligned Sunni tribes and clans which desire to have a seat at the negotiating table that will determine the politics of post-war Syria, are either making their “blood offering” to the West by sacrificing a number of foreign fighters, or are in the process of promoting the narrative suggesting that ISIS was wholly a foreign-recruited entity which oppressed the poor Sunnis of Syria and Iraq who, naturally, had absolutely nothing to do with that terrorist organization.
The story clearly bears close watching. The usual “qui bono?” principle applies, and whoever seems to be benefiting, politically or otherwise, from this story is likely the force behind releasing and possibly even creating the ISIS name list.