U.S. Forces Seize Digital Trove in Syria RaidPosted: May 18, 2015
WASHINGTON— Gordon Lubold and Adam Entous report: The U.S. special-operations force that carried out a first-of-its-kind mission in Syria to capture the Islamic State finance chief and his wife over the weekend came away with a treasure trove of materials that could help in the attempt to pressure the extremist group.
“There are a lot of things that have to align to be able to execute some of these things. For a variety of reasons, we were not able to execute the operation.”
U.S. officials said that the Army Delta Force team that swooped down onto the site in eastern Syria in helicopters killed the Islamic State operative after a brief firefight and left with laptops, phones, documents and, likely, hard drives, DVDs, CDs and SIM cards.
“What our team gathered was substantial, but we won’t know until it’s exploited just how valuable it is.It could be very substantial.”
— Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
The material could prove valuable in efforts to disrupt Islamic State’s ability to raise funds and may show why the Obama administration set aside its aversion to such operations to authorize the risky mission.
“What our team gathered was substantial, but we won’t know until it’s exploited just how valuable it is,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who has been briefed on the operation. “It could be very substantial.”
The raid also sent a signal to extremists that they aren’t safe in Syria and to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the U.S. can operate in his country, said John McLaughlin, a former acting Central Intelligence Agency director.
“We’re going to conduct these types of operations whenever we can. This isn’t opening the door any more; the door is open, it has been open, and it will remain open if we have the opportunity.”
The group of about two dozen of the Army’s Delta Force commandos flew in late Friday in UH-60 Black Hawks and V-22 Ospreys to a residential compound in Al-Amr in eastern Syria intending to capture the Islamic State operative, Abu Sayyaf, and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, who is also thought to be a member of Islamic State. The couple apparently was holding a young Yazidi woman as a slave.
A brief firefight ensued and Abu Sayyaf was killed. The special operators then snatched Umm Sayyaf and the Yazidi woman, as well as the potential wealth of electronic documents and hardware.
About a dozen Islamic State fighters were killed in the fighting, which left bullet holes on at least one U.S. Black Hawk helicopter, a Pentagon official said. No U.S. service members were injured…. (read more)
—Dion Nissenbaum contributed to this article.
Write to Adam Entous at email@example.com
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