Numerous ISIS jihadists were detained by Iraqi intelligence among refugees fleeing Mosul this week.
According to Reuters, several hundred men were stopped by the officers as they attempted to escape the front lines in the war-torn region.
One of the suspected jihadists, a teenager, reticently admitted to joining the terrorist group during a brief interrogation at the scene.
“The youth was then dragged off to a pickup truck and his arms tied behind his back,” the article states. “He confessed to a three-month membership in IS and spending a week in a training camp, but said he had only been a cook and never carried a weapon.”
The officers have spent more than a week “weeding out IS infiltrators” as civilians are taken by security units to government-controlled camps.
Although most of the 14,000 refugees are said to be women and children, the intelligence officers note that they have thus far screened hundreds of young men.
One officer, who described methods used to spot jihadists, said he personally removed seven suspected ISIS soldiers Sunday while Reuters journalists witnessed four others in detention the following day.
“You can tell because they are afraid,” the officer said. “Those who are not Daesh are also afraid but it’s different from the fear of those who are with Daesh.”
Iraqi intelligence is also relying on the cooperation of locals who were exposed to the terrorist group’s repression during their occupation of Mosul.
“People are cooperative because two years is a long time to be under constant pressure,” the officer added.
While the Iraqi government heralds its ability to filter ISIS members from crowds of their victims, a U.S. intelligence officer speaking with Reuters stated that ISIS combatants had escaped both Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa – although U.S.-backed fighters were said to have reduced the risk of attack by surrounding both cities.