In the last half of 2014, Jurgen Todenhofer went to the “Caliphate” of IS, which is in Iraq. He is the first western journalist who got permission from the IS to visit the Islamic State, to see what it is, how they are organized, to discuss and to find out what they really want.
Todenhofer is a former German politician who went into journalism and he wrote several best-selling books.
He has made several travels and investigations in, the by then, occupied Afghanistan by the USSR, to Algiers during the Algerian war, and to Tunisia during the Bizerte crisis.
He was strongly against the invasion of Iraq by the USA and allies, in which he mentioned: “it was a near-unparalleled folly”, and that he urged the US government to settle conflicts through negotiations.
As politician he traveled to Chile negotiating with Pinochet, which resulted in the release of 4.500 prisoners at the time.
Nowadays he is devoting his time in the relationship between the western world and the Muslim world.
As a journalist he has been writing critically about the IS and he knew that this could put an extra risk on his safety and also that he wasn’t sure whether the contacts and documents he got were legit. He followed his gut feeling and took off with his son to the Turkish border where he safely made his 10 day travel in IS.
He learned that the main goal of the IS is to plan the largest ‘religious cleansing in human kind’. All people who do not follow the religion of ‘the book’, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, should die, meaning all Atheists, Shiites, Yazidis, Hindus, and polytheists and all women and children of them must be enslaved. Additionally, moderate Muslims who are pro-democracy are to be killed as well because no human law can stand above God’s laws.
The area of the ‘caliphate’ is now equaling the size of the UK and the IS doesn’t seem to care a lot about moving boarders as it belongs to guerilla warfare. The same is with loss of people. This is in contradiction to western media where it is portrait that it is significant that some areas are recaptured again from the IS and the IS casualties made; what do we know…
IS, disregarding how they implement it, does have a well-functioning totalitarian system as seen in other states in the region. It includes education (also for women), social welfare, and internal security. Christians and Jews pay ‘security taxes’ and richer Muslims pay more in tax than the poor.
The majority of the Sunni’s in Iraq never were fully integrated into society during the Shiites’ (Maliki) rule, after the ’03 invasion and therefore they accept IS rule in that area. They prefer it to the oppression and discrimination from Bagdad’s governing. Mosul is the 2nd largest city in Iraq with a population in the 3 million, yet, the city is controlled by 5.000 IS fighters. Their territory was established in months dwarfing Al Queda.
“Those who want to defeat their enemies should know them well. The ISIS is more powerful and dangerous than many Western politicians think”, Todenhofer says. The US interventions in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and other countries, have shown that they know little about them at all.
They can’t be ‘bombed out of business’; in order to take out 5.000 IS fighters in a 3 million people city they need to bomb the whole city making tens of thousands of civilian casualties. With the present airstrikes the west already is empowering many people supporting the IS, giving them the advantage and are strengthening their believe in what they are doing is the right thing to do and that an IS is needed. According to Todenhofer, the IS is a direct result and consequence of George W. Bush’s illegal Iraq war.
The spirit within the IS-fighters of succeeding their mission is unpreceded and never seen before. Daily many more fighters are joining IS. They are from all walks of life; not only people who failed in countries of origin but also lawyers and other young successful people from the USA and several European countries are joining IS.
Todenhofer is concluding that it is the moderate Sunni Arabs who are the only ones who can stop the IS. When they have the opportunity to integrate normally in society and not have to choose between the two worse options, they have a chance of success. This they did already back in 2007 when the ISI (Islamic State of Iraq) was rising, although they were much weaker then. The west keeps on underestimating and not realizing the danger and intelligence of IS fighters and leaders. Therefore the west can’t make a stop to it.
IS is the 1% of the 99% Muslims who, as a tsunami, move mountains and practicing the Islam as it should not be practiced. Todenhofer was lectured about the Quran and made him see the Islam as a religion with compassion. The IS isn’t particularly merciful.
When the 1.6 billion Muslim population are heard, are cooperated with, are voiced, and are understood by the west, then the IS can be stopped. Jurgen Todenhofer sees the IS as the biggest threat since the Cold War and it takes a lot of education from the west to have a good understanding and to be in solidarity with the ones who are for something else,taking care of human kind.