A ‘disgraceful reality’: Islamic State spies posing as defectors

An Islamic State (IS) fighter, posing as a defector, befriended two journalists, one of whom was with the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) media campaign in southern Turkey. The activists took the alleged defector in to their home. He returned the kindness by beheading the two activists in the apartment last Friday.

The murders of the two activists, “among the best from A-Raqqa,” is a harsh reminder of the risk posed by any sort of encounter with an Islamic State sympathizer. Defectors may well be spies, says Furat al-Wafaa, a member of Reporters Without Borders and former activist with RBSS.

“I had published a warning to activists, but the will of God is stronger,” al- Wafaa tells Syria Direct’s Ammar Hamou.

“Caution is necessary.”

Q: Is it true that someone claiming to be an IS defector assassinated the two activists with the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently media campaign in Turkey?

I am certain of that. Those who perpetrated the crime published a video just after carrying out the operation, which is clear evidence of the extent of their treachery and criminality. This is the criminal who the two martyrs took in based on his claim that he had defected from IS, but was really on an intelligence-gathering mission for them. He carried out his crime after his commanders issued the order.

Caution is necessary. I had warned and cautioned previously about IS members claiming to have defected from IS and then heading to Turkey. In fact, some of them entered Turkey after the battle for Kobani. Afterward, IS circulated news of their deaths in battle in order for them to go to Turkey and convince people they meet with that IS thinks they’re dead. For that reason I had published a warning to activists with them as examples, but the will of God is stronger and what I had warned about happened time and again. The news was very shocking and the treachery that was characterized by this criminal and those who stood behind him woke up the negligent to the repugnance and deception of IS. But that only happened after the loss of two young men who were among the best from A-Raqqa.

Q: How will the residents and activists of A-Raqqa differentiate between the real defector and the liar?

The residents of A-Raqqa have become the most aware and understanding people when it comes to IS. They know very well whether a person from their ranks is a defector or whether they are on a secret mission. They coexist daily with IS and their supporters and live with this disgraceful reality.

However, after all that has happened and continues to happen in A-Raqqa, all the crimes IS and their supporters commit, A-Raqqa’s residents realize that they live in the shadow of a pure intelligence organization, and they deal with it on this basis. In fact, some have gone so far as to avoid talking about any subject dealing with IS. We previously heard the saying “the walls have ears” from grandparents, but the saying “IS has eyes everywhere” has now been added.

Ammar Hamou

Ammar Hammou is from Douma city in outer Damascus. He studied journalism at Damascus University and left Syria in 2011.

Samuel Kieke

Samuel Kieke was a 2014-2015 CASA I fellow in Amman, Jordan. He received his BA from the University of Texas at Austin in Arabic Language and Literature, Middle Eastern Studies, and International Relations and Global Studies.