ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A group of Kurdish activists assisted in the capture of a Dutch jihadist named Mohamed Ghorshid in 2015 by pretending to be an alluring British Islamic State sympathizer online, reported a journalist from a Dubai-based media outlet.
“Kurdish online ISIS hunters set up twitter account pretending to be UK girl wishing [to] join ISIS in Syria,” tweeted Al Aan reporter Jenan Moussa on Wednesday.
“Dutch ISIS supporter fell for it. They shared DMs, naughty pics, got plane ticket. He revealed identity, got arrested.”
1/ Kurdish online ISIS hunters set up twitter account pretending to be UK girl wishing 2join ISIS in Syria.— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) January 30, 2019
Dutch ISIS supporter fell for it. They shared DMs, naughty pics, got plane ticket. He revealed identity, got arrested.
I met ISIS hunter &saw DMs!pic.twitter.com/C3EzVVQyuo
Ghorshid, a notorious Islamic State supporter from the Dutch city of Maastricht is himself a Kurd, originally from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and active on twitter under the name Salahaddin al Kurdi. He was convicted in 2013 for attempting to travel to Syria to join the militant organization.
“To us, he's a traitor, a scum,” one of the hunters, also Kurdish, told Moussa. “He doesn’t only want to commit crimes but also smear [the] good name of [the] Kurdish community. We had to do something.”
They began communicating with Ghorshid as the imaginary British female through private messages on Twitter and continued to reel him in for months.
As it progressed further, Ghorshid sent a picture of himself to his supposed sweetheart, writing, “Sorry for that face. I slept only few hours.”
Eventually, the activists posing as the woman and their unsuspecting online friend made a plan to meet in Rome and then travel together to Islamic State territory to marry. The Kurdish jihadi hunters then shared their communications with Dutch authorities, who arrested Ghorshid.
In 2013, he was sentenced for attempting to travel to Syria. Later, in 2015, he was imprisoned for joining the Islamic State and, in 2018, was arrested again after being named in an investigation into a double murder by jihadists in South Africa.
He is currently serving a prison sentence in the Netherlands.
After Moussa’s posts, a Twitter user named Gilgo claimed to be one of the activists responsible for the online trap and posted multiple images of private messages he said were sent by Ghorshid, many of them sexual in nature.
Ghorshid is not the only Dutch Kurd who has joined the Islamic State. One named as “Khalid K.” from Almere, known also as Abu Abdulrehman al Iraki, was killed by Kurdish Peshmerga forces in August 2014.
Dutch authorities also arrested seven men in September who they accused of planning to carry out a major terrorist attack. The primary suspect, a 34-year-old Dutch Kurd named as “Hardi N.” was handed a 16-month sentence in 2016 for trying to join the al-Qaida affiliate, Jahbat al-Nusra.
Kurdish researcher and lecturer in sociology at Soran University Ibrahim Malazada told Kurdistan 24 that there are large numbers of Muslim residents of European cities who often feel marginalized.
“They can recruit younger people in Europe because they are feeling they are a minority,” he said.
He also listed as a factor European religious freedom laws which often recognize the right of religious extremists to preach their ideology in mosques.
“In UK, in London, for example, the majority of mosques are under the hegemony of Salafists,” he continued.
“They are everywhere and this is very dangerous.”
Editing by John J. Catherine