German Journalist Returns From Time With ISIS With Chilling Stories

Jürgen Todenhöfer
Jürgen Todenhöfer discussing the capture of Mosul with ISIS fighters Facebook

A 74-year-old German journalist who was granted unprecedented access to the Islamic State (ISIS) has returned after spending 10 days with the terrorist group in the areas the group control in Iraq and Syria.

Jürgen Todenhöfer, who heavily criticised the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is the first member of the Western media to be granted access. His trip came after seven months of negotiations with the group's leaders.

Although he has yet to release a summary of the 10 days he spent with ISIS, he has given several interviews to media in which he discussed the group, telling a reporter from CNN: "They are only 1% in the Islamic world, but this 1% movement has the power of a nuclear tsunami."

Todenhöfer says he spoke to several fighters, ISIS leaders and even child soldiers fighting for the group. He highlighted the importance of not underestimating the forces at the disposal of the group. "I think the Islamic State is a lot more dangerous than Western leaders realize. They believe in what they are fighting for and are preparing the largest religious cleansing campaign the world has ever seen."

He told CNN: "These are not stupid people. One of the people we met had just finished his law degree. He had great job offers, but he turned them down to go and fight… We met fighters from Europe and the United States. One of them was from New Jersey. Can you imagine a man from New Jersey traveling to fight for the Islamic State?"

In one interview Todenhöfer is seen speaking to an ISIS fighter who was involved in taking Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. "We killed a score of them so they got terrified and ran away," the fighter tells him. "We don't retreat, we only fight and God almighty will victor us [sic]. Those who have reverted from Islam do not have a solid ideology so they ran away. They came to fight for the tyrant, fight for money."

Todenhöfer told German press that there is an "almost ecstatic enthusiasm" for the jihadist group in the city and one that he has not seen "in any other war zone". He also said that there was a constant stream of men coming to sign up to fight. "When we stayed at their recruitment house, there were 50 new fighters who came every day. And I just could not believe the glow in their eyes. They felt like they were coming to a promised land, like they were fighting for the right thing."

One particularly interesting interview is one that Todenhöfer conducted with a German fighter who reportedly has a high-level position in ISIS's leadership. Todenhöfer questioned him about the beheadings and enslavement that ISIS have become notorious for.

"Slavery absolutely signals progress," the man replied. "Only ignorant people believe that there is no slavery among the Christians and the Jews. Of course there are women who are forced into prostitution under the worst circumstances. I would say that slavery is a great help to us and we will continue to have slavery and beheadings, it is part of our religion... many slaves have converted to Islam and have then been freed."

He went on to say that the U.S. is responsible for the beheadings of aid workers and journalists. "People should really think about the case of James Foley. He did not get killed because we started the battle. He got killed because of the ignorance of his government that did not give him any help."

The fighter also had a stark warning for the West, telling Todenhöfer: "We will conquer Europe one day. It is not a question of if we will conquer Europe, just a matter of when that will happen."

"Our expansion will be perpetual... And the Europeans need to know that when we come, it will not be in a nice way. It will be with our weapons. And those who do not convert to Islam or pay the Islamic tax will be killed."