According to a comprehensive New York Times essay report published on Wednesday, ISIS has been shipping “hundreds of operatives” back to Europe in order to carry out terror attacks against civilians.
The Times’ Rukmini Callimachi details the wide-reach of the terror group’s global work after weeks of conducting interviews with both intelligence officials and IS-affiliated persons. Callimachi reports:
The group has sent “hundreds of operatives” back to the European Union, with “hundreds more in Turkey alone,” according to a senior United States intelligence official and a senior American defense official, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence.
According to Callimachi, ISIS has established a semi-organized system of processing recruits. “The first port of call for new arrivals to the Islamic State is a network of dormitories in Syria, just across the border from Turkey,” notes the Times’ reporter. “There, recruits are interviewed and inventoried.”
This “bureaucratic... intake procedure” has enabled the Islamic terror organization to keep track of its jihadist operatives and dispatch them to major cities in Europe, including Paris, Munich, and Brussels.
Here’s how ISIS successfully draws in and trains recruits while circumventing security channels, according to Callimachi:
Since late 2014, the Islamic State has instructed foreigners joining the group to make their trip look like a holiday in southern Turkey, including booking a return flight and paying for an all-inclusive vacation at a beach resort, from which smugglers arrange their transport into Syria…
That cover story creates pressure to keep things moving quickly during the recruits’ training in Syria, and most get a bare minimum — just a few days of basic weapons practice, in some instances.
ISIS recruits undergo Special Forces-style training, which starts with “hours of running, jumping, push-ups, parallel bars, crawling” and then slowly progresses to exercises with Kalashnikov rifles and proficiency tests in guerilla warfare tactics.
The terror group has a special interest in recruiting “foreigners,” or European citizens, that have gone over to the dark side. Foreign recruits are placed at various levels in ISIS’ ranks and encouraged to carry out attacks on their countries of birth.
As Callimachi confirms, ISIS’ “external operations branch,” responsible for exporting terror abroad, is well-developed and well-placed to inflict maximum damage on Western targets.