Published on 17th October 2017 by

An Islamic State prisoner for nine months, Masoud Aqil from Syria was released in September 2015. Today Masoud lives in Germany – and is restless.

In early 2016, a young Kurd named Masoud Aqil arrived in Germany after having fled Syria along the Balkan Route. And he brought valuable information with him — about IS terrorists who’d also come to Europe the same way. Having been imprisoned and tortured by IS for nine months, he is willing to pass this information on to the German authorities.

Video journalist Masoud Aqil and his colleague Farhad Hamo were on their way to an assignment in December 2014 when they were apprehended by armed jihadis and held for 280 days. They were tortured and interrogated. Aqil and Farhad had been reporting for a Kurdish television network in neighboring Iraq since 2013. In September 2015, Aqil was released to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in a prisoner exchange. Now in Germany, Masoud Aqil is prepared to do what many refugees are afraid to do: talk about IS. He lives in an undisclosed location in Germany. Once a victim at the hands of terrorists, he is now a terrorist hunter. Using both the internet and information acquired through contacts in the Kurdish community and the YPG, Aqil tracks down IS supporters, some of whom he encountered during his captivity. Because they assumed the young Kurd would eventually be killed, many of his captors spoke openly to him. “They sent informants to me to prove the power of their organization,” says Aqil. “They showed me newspaper articles and videos from western media outlets reporting on the growing threat posed by IS. They were proud.” Today, some of those perpetrators live in refugee hostels in Europe. Masoud Aqil has reported them to the German authorities.

“These people took my home, my homeland, my dreams from me,” Aqil said. But in Germany, he is still confronted with terrorists. He considers it his responsibility to do what he can to curb their influence in Europe. By giving Aqil the chance to reveal his story, from working as Kurdish cameraman in northeastern Syria to being imprisoned and tortured in IS prisons and eventually becoming a terrorist hunter in Germany, DW correspondent Frank Hofmann makes clear just how invaluable information provided by refugees can be in the fight against terrorists.
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