Recently two cells of Islamic State operatives were arrested in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan. While both groups had direct ties to the Islamic state, one consisted of all females and was tasked with social media outreach along with propaganda. The other was an all male group dedicated to direct action based terror attacks to be carried out in the region in an effort to create general instability. They were arrested late last year by Kurdistan’s secret police, the Asayish, but the investigation was only recently concluded.
At the time of the arrest, both groups were actively receiving orders from Islamic State leaders in preparation for an attack. Specifically the female group was handling coordination and logistics while the male group purchased weapons and munitions via the black market. Out of the four arrested woman, three of them were married with children. The fourth was a 28-year old university graduate with a BA.
During a testimony to Asayish, most of them admitted they found their way to IS via social media recruitment. The recruiters requested they move to IS-controlled territory but they refused due to ties with family in Kurdistan. Among the group of five men arrested, one was of Arab descent and the rest were Kurdish. They had been given the task of preparing for a large-scale attack in the Iraqi Kurdistan region such as a Kurdish New Year’s celebration or other holdiay.