Al Jazeera has a fascinating interview posted with a German journalist, Jurgen Todenhofer, who embedded with ISIS fighters for 10 days and lived to tell the tale. He built a relationship online with an ISIS fighter from Germany to get assurances (as far as that was possible) that they wouldn’t lop his head off before traveling there to interview fighters.
He had some discouraging / chilling / sensible insights into the current status of ISIS, their ultimate objectives and the ineffectiveness of present efforts to counter them by Western powers:
I had three strong impressions of ISIL. The first one was that ISIL is much stronger than we think. They have conquered an area which is bigger than Great Britain. Every day, hundreds of new enthusiastic fighters are arriving. There is an incredible enthusiasm that I have never seen in any other war zones that I have been to.
Secondly, the brutality of their intended religious cleansing is on another level. And thirdly, I think the strategy of the western countries regarding the Muslim world is completely wrong. With our bombardment, we have never been successful. We have not been successful in Afghanistan; we have not been successful in Iraq. The bombardments are a terror-breeding programme. We had much fewer terrorists before 2001 and these bombardments, which killed hundreds of thousands of people have created terrorists and increased terrorism.
Todenhofer implies that Western countries should butt out and asserts that only Iraqi Sunnis can defeat ISIS. He further says that Iraqi Sunnis will only undertake that once they’ve been reintegrated into Iraqi society.
Sounds about right. I wonder how that Sunni Reawakening project is coming along? Maybe PBO will give us an update in the SOTU.