Arab and Kurdish US allies gather a trove of digital data on ISIL

U.S.-backed forces fighting to drive Islamic State out of northern Syria have gathered a massive trove of documents and data belonging to the militant group, potentially shedding more light on its operations, a U.S. military official said on Wednesday.

The material, gathered as fighters moved from village to village surrounding the town of Manbij, includes notebooks, laptops, USB drives, and even advanced math and science textbooks rewritten with pro-Islamic State word problems, Colonel Chris Garver, the U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said in a news briefing.

The U.S.-backed fighters - an alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces - have gathered more than 4 terabytes of digital information, and the material, most of it in Arabic, is now being analyzed by the U.S-led coalition fighting the militant group.

"It is a lot of material, it is going to take a lot to go through, then start connecting the dots and trying to figure where we can start dismantling ISIS," Garver said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Coalition advisers, knowing that Manbij served as a strategic hub for Islamic State, specifically described to fighters the kind of digital and other material to gather as they battled the group's forces, Garver said.

A U.S. special forces raid last year in Syria against a senior Islamic State leader, Abu Sayyaf, produced 7 terabytes of data, U.S. officials said, revealing information about the group's leadership, financing, and security.

The information gathered around Manbij has so far shed light on how Islamic State processes foreign fighters once they enter Syria, Garver said. Manbij served as a key receiving area for foreign fighters on their arrival.
I suspect it may take them awhile to separate the intel data from the porn these guys tend to have on their hard drives.   Finding a way to cut them off from the foreign fighters they use would be a strategic victory of sorts, however, the group seems to be concentrating of late in using crowdsourcing for terrorist attacks in Europe and the US.  Cutting off their access to those fighters would save lives.


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