Inside Terror: ISIS “Much Stronger Than We Think”

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If we’re accustomed to seeing the grisly fate awaiting Western journalists who have the misfortune to be captured by ISIS, at least one such journalist has lived to tell the tale. German journalist Jurgen Todenhofer spent 10 days embedded with the Islamic State, and his recent interview with Al Jazeera has shed some light on what has remained a very secretive, shadowy organization.

The 74-year-old Todenhofer was granted safe passage in Mosul despite his previous comments criticizing the Islamic State. He told Al Jazeera that, having read the Quran several times, he asked the fighters he met whether they gave any thought on the mercy preached in the religion. “These were very difficult discussions,” said Todenhofer, “especially when they were talking about the number of people who they are willing to kill. They were talking about hundreds of millions. They were enthusiastic about it, and I just cannot understand that.”

Todenhofer went on to warn that ISIS – or ISIL, as he calls them – was “much stronger than we think.” Dismayed at the fact that they now control an area larger than the whole of Great Britain, Todenhofer said that the “brutality of their intended religious cleansing is on another level.” Finally, he took aim at the Western response to the Muslim world, saying that our military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against ISIS are only serving as programs for “terror-breeding.” He suggested that only Arabs and Sunni Muslims in particular could win the war against the extremist army.

What War?

Putting aside the journalist’s opinions on how to defeat the group – he has no background in military strategy as far as I’m aware – he’s not wrong when he says the bombardment campaign is a failure. Obama’s wishy-washy strategy against the militants proves only that America’s heart is not in the battle, emboldening the enemy and the would-be terrorists flocking to join them from around the world.

According to previews of President Obama’s State of the Union address, he may spend little airtime commenting on our fight against ISIS. He may not mention it at all. To say we are fighting this battle with one armed tied behind our backs would be an understatement. The truth is that we’re barely fighting it at all. We are determined instead to wait until this problem grows too large to ignore. Unfortunately, that time may only come after ISIS launches or inspires a major attack on U.S. soil.

Every liberal needs to read Todenhofer’s account of ISIS in full. The need to understand the enemy – to empathize with their point of view – is simply not applicable to the Islamic State. There is no way to “understand” their aims. There is no way to justify their actions. These are a people who respect only one thing: the language of death. Thus, we should be more than willing to give them what they want.

This war is coming, like it or not. Whether we win it or not…well, that’s still up for grabs.