The Head Of ISIS’ European Operations Reportedly Defects. Here’s What This Means For ISIS.
Violent terrorist attacks have swept across Europe in the past year, forcing government officials to amp up security and intelligence efforts. However, in an unexpected twist, a source told The Daily Mail the head of ISIS operations in Europe defected, which could change the scope of the threats currently facing European nations and the West possibly getting information out of the ex-ISIS militant. According to the former Syrian rebel source, Frenchman Abu Soulayman, fled to Turkey after deciding to leave his role within the group.
Soulayman is believed to have planned the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris last November and Brussels in March, making him one of the most wanted men in the world. He presumably stepped into the position after Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the main ringleader behind the Paris attack, was killed in a police raid not long after the Nov. 13 massacre.
Abu Khaled, a pseudonym for the man claiming to be in contact with people still inside the militant group, told The Daily Mail Soulayman defected from Jarablus, a Syrian city occupied by ISIS right on the Turkish border, to the Turkish city of Karkamish in June. “They must have made arrangements of some kind with the Turkish authorities,” Khaled said. “He went with fourteen French nationals.”
If true, the leader’s departure would be a major blow to ISIS’s global operations. Not only will the group have to replace him, but it also has to worry about Soulayman leaking secrets to those fighting the militants’ violence (i.e. western countries). Someone in such a powerful position knows how ISIS operates, plans its attacks, recruits new fighters, and gets its money — all things the U.S. and European nations want to know. It doesn’t appear Soulayman has made any attempts to sell his secrets, but then again, those negotiations wouldn’t necessarily be made public.
Having a leader defect also makes the group look like it’s unravelling, which doesn’t bode well for the strong reputation of fear and terror it tries to portray to the world. There are a number of reasons Soulayman could have allegedly left — perhaps he was tired of killing innocent westerners, or perhaps he made enemies within the group and needed to escape — but when it comes down to it, people don’t leave thriving organizations they’re glad to be apart of. Of course, no one should want to be a part of such a violent group that kills innocent people across the world, but ISIS has only reached the level of power it has because of dedicated members willing to do anything, even kill themselves, for the cause. Once they stop believing in it and defecting, the group starts to lose its hold.
Only time will tell exactly what effects his alleged departure will have on ISIS as a whole, but it can’t be good for the group.