Telegram-ed to Death Row:  Iraqi Intelligence Captured ISIS Leader With an App

Ismail al-Ithawi
Ismail al-Ithawi, captured ISIS leader

The death sentence handed down last month to Ismail Alwan Salman al-Ithawi, deputy leader of the Islamic State, reminded me of the clever intelligence operation that nabbed four other top ISIS commander.

Reminder to aspiring spies:  Don’t trust your smart phone.

Ithawi, who served as ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s personal aide, was captured in Turkey during an intelligence operation conducted in joint Turkish-Iraqi operation.  Iraqi intelligence agents then used the Telegram messaging app on Ithawi’s mobile phone to lure four other Islamic State commanders to cross the border from Syria into Iraq, where they were captured. Iraqi Security Adviser Hisham Hashimi told the story to Reuters last May.

“Following Eithawi’s capture, Iraqi and American intelligence agents were able to uncover bank accounts used by the group and also secret communication codes he used, Hashimi said.”


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