October 13, 2015: Strategy Page
Questions are being asked, and no answers given, about the aftermath of an American raid in Syria that captured lots of evidence of illegal activities throughout the Middle East and in the West. Five months after the raid the massive amount of intel taken has resulted no one being arrested or prosecuted. This all began on May 18th, 2015, in the eastern Syria (Deir Ezzor province) when American commandos (from the army Delta Force) raided the heavily guarded ISIL compound of Fathi ben Awn ben Jildi Murad al Tunisi (nicknamed Abu Sayyaf), a Tunisian who ran ISIL finances. This included the lucrative trade in stolen oil and any other scams that will bring in revenue. The raiders sought to take Abu Sayyaf alive but he and two other senior ISIL officials died in the brief battle.
The raiders did seize many records (most of them electronic) and took away Abu Sayyaf’s wife who was wanted for supervising the enslavement of captured women. Also taken away were a quantity of small (easy to smuggle) antiquities that ISIL was preparing to smuggle out of Syria for sale to wealthy buyers in the Middle East and the West. In late September the United States returned these small antique items to the Iraqi government and that put the May raid back in the news and triggered unanswered questions about the follow-up to the intel taken in that operation. It may be a long time before it is revealed what actually happened here, especially when it comes to the trade in illegal antiquities. The most likely explanation is that the non-terrorists revealed to be involved (as smugglers, middlemen and financiers) of the smuggling operation all agreed to provide information about ISIL and thus are remaining unidentified. That doesn’t explain all the silence, but does account for much of it. Abu Sayyaf was dealing with tens of millions of dollars of illegal transactions each month and the number of operations he had in various stages of completion probably amounted to over $100 million and involved a lot of prominent people who pretended to be honest, upright citizens. That sort of thing rattles a lot of cages and has lot of unpredictable side effects. .
The raiders came in at night in special SOCOM UH-60 helicopters and left the same way with all their loot and captives. ISIL was alarmed as the suddenness and success of this raid and suspect one or more traitors supplied the Americans with information. That was because the raiders know where everyone and everything was inside the compound (which contains over fifty buildings) and also seemed to know that most of the security forces had been temporarily called away to take care of an emergency. ISIL is always looking for traitors and being falsely accused of treason is considered an occupational hazard within ISIL. Most of those accused are executed and many are extensively tortured first. ISIL has also made it more complicated to join the inner circle (ISIL management) and now demands extensive background checks. The penalty for failing such a background check is death. The most likely source of the traitorous information was probably local civilians who hate ISIL.