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Middle East

Embedded with the IS group: 'The unbelievers have to die'

© FRANCE 24 screen grab

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-12-25

German journalist Jurgen Todenhofer, who recently spent 10 days with Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria, tells FRANCE 24 they buy Western weapons from Syrian rebels and envision a future that includes a massive "religious cleansing".

Todenhofer, 74, said he spent several months negotiating a deal with IS militants that would allow him to visit their self-proclaimed "caliphate", which the group has carved out of vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, leaving behind a trail of death, rape and pillage.

The German reporter said he encountered numerous foreign fighters who had joined the jihadist cause, including dozens of Frenchmen, US citizens from New Jersey and "the son of one of the richest bankers [in] London". He described IS fighters as tough, well-trained, and convinced they are achieving "something great, something historic".

Islamic State group militants share a world view that calls for a massive “religious cleansing” and which envisions a future with only three religions – a “very rigid” form of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

“All the other religions have to be killed, have to disappear,” Todenhofer said, adding that the militants envisage this would involve the elimination of “hundreds of millions, even billions” of people.

“All the unbelievers have to die. That’s what they say.”

Todenhofer went on to say that the IS militants are being armed by the West – if only indirectly – as Western moves to arm moderate Syrian rebels have backfired.

“They buy the weapons that we give to the Free Syrian Army, so they get Western weapons – they get French weapons … I saw German weapons, I saw American weapons,” he said.

“The best seller of weapons is the Free Syrian Army, which is financed by NATO, financed probably also by France, but at least by the United States.”

Todenhofer, who is writing a book about the group, said the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group would ultimately fail to destroy it. In the end, he said, “only Arabs” can defeat “this Arab terroristic organisation” – but the will to do so remains weak in Iraq after many years of the Sunni minority being politically sidelined.

“Only the Sunni Iraqis – which are discriminated [against] in Iraq – could defeat the Sunni IS. But they will not do it for the moment, because they don’t have political rights in their country.”

Click on the player above to watch the full interview.

Islamic state group in Iraq and Syria


Date created : 2014-12-24


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