Tags: Barack Obama | George W. Bush | Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | Syria | ISIS | Islamic State

Western Journalist: ISIS 'More Dangerous' Than US Realizes

Image: Western Journalist: ISIS 'More Dangerous' Than US Realizes
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By    |   Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014 03:19 PM

The Islamic State (ISIS) is "much stronger and much more dangerous" than U.S. or European officials realize and its goal is nothing less than the "biggest religious cleansing in history," according to the first Western journalist allowed to visit the terrorist army that beheaded two American reporters this year.

Jurgen Todenhofer, a German writer and anti-war activist, told the German website TZ that he was shocked at what he discovered on a 10-day visit to Mosul, an Islamic State-held Iraqi city north of Baghdad that has been the scene of fierce fighting between jihadists and Kurdish forces for about a month. The interview was translated into English on the Deutsche Welle website.

In Mosul, he found what he called an "almost ecstatic enthusiasm" for the Islamic State that "I have never encountered in any other war zone," despite its brutal treatment of captives, its slave trade and its murder of children.

The Islamic State has established control over parts of Iraq and Syria that are larger than Britain, Todenhofer said. Hundreds of foreign fighters arrive daily in what he described as an "incomprehensible" wave of support.

Todenhofer said he negotiated with the Islamic State leaders for seven months to get permission to visit Mosul and interview many of the jihadists who are fighting to establish what they call a global Islamic caliphate.

He acknowledged the dangers of dealing with the terrorists, who beheaded Americans journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and recorded their executions.

"Of course, I have seen the terrible, brutal video and it was one of my main concerns during the negotiations as to how I can avoid [that fate]," he told TZ.

Todenhofer said he found the Islamic State fighters well-armed and fanatical in their religious zealotry, which some mainstream Muslim leaders have condemned as a perversion of Islam.

Todenhofer, 74, is a controversial German journalist, former judge and former member of the German parliament, The New York Times reported in a profile on the freelance writer. He faced criticism in 2012 for conducting what many viewed as a sympathetic interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of war crimes in a conflict with rebels that began in 2011.

He criticized President Barack Obama’s air war against the Islamic State and blamed former President George W. Bush for the rise of the Islamic terrorist army.

Last week in Washington, Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby reported that U.S. airstrikes have killed several top Islamic State leaders, including a top deputy to ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

But Todenhofer claimed the air campaign is backfiring.

"With every bomb that is dropped and hits a civilian, the number of terrorists increases," he said, adding that "without George W. Bush's Iraq war, there would be no ISIS."

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The Islamic State (ISIS) is much stronger and much more dangerous than U.S. or European officials realize and its goal is nothing less than the "biggest religious cleansing in history," according to the first Western journalist allowed to visit the terrorist army.
ISIS, Islamic State, dangerous, George W. Bush
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2014-19-23
Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014 03:19 PM
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