A German journalist who spent 10 days with Islamic State fighters and came out unharmed told the U.K.’s Jewish News that the jihadist fighters told him that the radical jihadist group that has captured wide swaths of Syria and Iraq fears only one Middle Eastern country — Israel.
“They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them,” journalist and former member of German parliament Jurgen Todenhöfer explained.
Todenhöfer, a former member of the German Parliament from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, made his trip in 2014, writing a book that was published this year: “My 10 Days in the Islamic State.” He was the first Western journalist allowed extensive access to ISIS territory – and to return safely from the trip.
“They are not scared of the British and the Americans,” Todenhöfer said. “They are scared of the Israelis and told me the Israeli army is the real danger.” He added that Israel Defense Forces can fight a guerrilla war.
The journalist said that the ISIS militants told him they hope to lure Western forces into Iraq and Syria where they could then kidnap American and British soldiers.
“They think they can defeat U.S. and U.K. ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies,” Todenhöfer said. “But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists.”
Todenhöfer described the stages of ISIS’ plan for world domination: First to conquer all the Middle East, except for Israel. Then to conquer the West and the rest of the world.
The terrorist group, explains Todenhöfer, would love to tie down American and British ground forces in a protracted urban war. “In Mosul there are 10,000 fighters living among 1.5 million people in 2,000 apartments, not in one place – so it would be difficult to fight them. ISIS fighters are ready to die in a war against western soldiers,” he said.
The journalist said he spent six months cultivating jihadist contacts online in order to ensure he was protected once entering Islamic State territory. He spent 10 days with leading members of the Islamist group, including spokesmen, judges and fighters.
Despite the reporter’s assessment that ISIS fears Israel, a threat on Israel was part of the audio message released on Saturday purportedly by the Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“We are getting closer to you day by day… Do not think that we have forgotten about you,” said al-Baghdadi.
“Jews, you will not enjoy… Palestine. God has gathered you in Palestine so that the Mujahadeen can reach you soon and you will hide by the rock and the tree. Palestine will be your graveyard,” he added.