In January of last year during an interview with The New Yorker, President Obama infamously referred to ISIS as the “JV team” among terrorist organizations. Since that time the “JV team” has seized control of large portions of Iraq and Syria, taunted the United States, beheaded American prisoners, expanded into Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, and now appears to be capable of launching attacks in countries around the world. Clearly, the initial assessment of ISIS by the Obama administration fell a bit short of reality. Now, a year later, a German writer who recently spent 10 days embedded with ISIS forces believes ISIS is much stronger than anyone believes.
Jürgen Todenhöfer is a German author who traveled with ISIS forces for ten days while doing research for a book on the group. In an interview with NPR’s News Hour that aired in December, Todenhöfer describes what he saw, and gives his impression of the strength and organization of the terror group.
Todenhöfer has had previous experience with radical terror organizations, having traveled in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other war zones, and believes ISIS is much stronger than any of the forces he has seen before.
I got the impression that IS is much stronger than Western politicians think.” he said. “I have seen very, very, very strong guerilla troops. I think IS is the strongest I’ve met…” When asked how ISIS compared to Al Qaeda, Todenhöfer said: “Al Qaeda is an empty shell beside IS. IS is much stronger, there is no comparison.
An interview with German born ISIS fighter Christian Emde aired on private TV network RTL and is posted on Todenhöfer’s Facebook page. In comments posted with the video, Todenhöfer said he only posted the video after much thought. “You can only beat your opponent, if you know them,” he said.
In the 13 minute interview, Emde indicated the Islamic State had plans to expand their caliphate far beyond its current borders. “We say, we have no borders, we have only front lines – which means the expansion will not stop.” That expansion would come at a cost to Christians, Jews, and members of any other religion who would be free to practice their religion as long as they paid a protection tax. The world’s Shiite Muslim population, who ISIS considers apostates, will pay a far higher price – either convert or be killed.
100 million, 200 million, 500 million – we don’t care about the number,” Emde said. “Every apostate will be killed.
In September President Obama indicated his strategy would be to “shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem”, but there has been no indication the bombing campaign has done any appreciable damage.