On March 29, 2017, the Dubai-based TV network Akhbar Al-An aired a piece revealing the identity of ISIS’s drone engineer. The piece was prepared by Akhbar Al-An reported Jinan Musa, and features the engineer’s full name, nom de guerre, images, and other personal details. According to the piece, the engineer is a Tunisian citizen whose real name is Fadhel Mensi aka Abu Yusri Al-Tunisi. The piece starts by explaining that the piece came after a 2gb hard drive that was found in one of ISIS’s headquarters in northern Syria was given to Akhbar Al-An researchers. According to Musa, cross referencing the material on the hard drive led researchers to the engineer’s real identity. One document on the hard drive revealed that Al-Tunisi was working to increase ISIS’s attack drones’ weight limit, to enable them to carry up to 20 kg of explosives. Additional research by MEMRI indicates that the engineer could have come from the Tunisian town of Siliana.
Ababil Drone Project – Increasing ISIS Drones’ Weight Limit
Musa said that the thousands of files recovered from the hard drive included images of drones as well as a document written on ISIS Aleppo Province letterhead, in which Al-Tunisi presents a drone project codenamed “Ababil” to ISIS command. Al-Tunisi writes in the document that he is a 47-year-old electrical engineer specializing in aerodynamics and aviation. Al-Tunisi writers that “the purpose of Project Ababil is to arm drones with 20 kg of explosives.” According to an American expert interviewed in the piece, increasing ISIS drones’ weight limit to 20 kg is a dramatic and dangerous development, since the drones can currently only carry 1 kg of explosives.
Discovering The Engineer’s True Identity
After receiving the hard drive, Musa and her colleagues managed to connect the nom de guerre Abu Yusri Al-Tunisi to the name…
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