Confessions of an ISIS Spy
He joined the self-proclaimed Islamic State, trained jihadist infantry, and groomed foreign operatives—including a pair of Frenchmen. And now, Abu Khaled says he is ready to talk.Michael Weiss, The Daily Beast
For all the attention paid to ISIS, relatively little is known about its inner workings. But a man claiming to be a member of the so-called Islamic State’s security services has stepped forward to provide that inside view. This series is based on days of interviews with this ISIS spy.
Part One: An Appointment in Istanbul
ISTANBUL — It took some convincing, but the man we’ll call Abu Khaled finally came to tell his story. Weeks of discussion over Skype and WhatsApp had established enough of his biography since last we’d encountered each other, in the early, more hopeful days of the Syrian revolution. He had since joined the ranks of the so-called Islamic State and served with its “state security” branch, the Amn al-Dawla, training jihadist infantry and foreign operatives. Now, he said, he had left ISIS as a defector—making him a marked man. But he did not want to leave Syria, and The Daily Beast was not about to send me there to the kidnap and decapitation capital of the world. I had met him often enough in Syria’s war zones in the past, before the rise of ISIS, to think I might trust him. But not that much. “Lucky for you, the Americans don’t pay ransoms,” he ventured, after the two of us began to grow more relaxed around each other and the question of ISIS hostage-taking inevitably came up. He said he was joking.