A German journalist who spent 10 days with Islamic State says that the radical jihadist group that has captured wide swaths of Syria and Iraq is deterred by only one Middle Eastern country – Israel.
In an interview with the British Jewish News, Jurgen Todenhofer recalls his brief time behind enemy lines during which he spoke with ISIS fighters.
“The only country ISIS fears is Israel,” Todenhofer, a former member of the German parliament, told Jewish News. “They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them.”
The writer said that ISIS wants to lure British and American forces into Syria and Iraq, areas where it thinks it has an advantage.
“They think they can defeat US and UK ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies,” he told Jewish News
. “But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists.”
Todenhofer said that ISIS was “preparing the largest religious cleansing in history” and that he was “pessimistic” that the threat it poses could be neutralized. He added that the Paris attacks was just the first of “a storm” that is coming to Western cities.
“They are not scared of the British and the Americans, they are scared of the Israelis and told me the Israeli army is the real danger. We can’t defeat them with our current strategy. These people [the IDF] can fight a guerrilla 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 [for western soldiers] to fight them. ISIS fighters are ready to die in a war against a western soldiers.”
Todenhofer said that ISIS plans to topple local governments while at the same time carry out terrorist atrocities abroad.
“They are a very strong danger for Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Libya, while the West will be subjected to big acts of terrorism instead of a full blown ISIS war because they say they don’t want too many battles at the same time,” he said.
The Islamic State released a taped message on Saturday with a purported speech by it's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which he threatened the Jewish state
"We are getting closer to you day by day," said the message. "Do not think that we have forgotten about you."
"God caused the Jews of the world to gather in Israel, and the war against them has become easy. It is the obligation of every Muslim to carry out Jihad,"
"Jews, you will not enjoy in 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 said.
The audio message said air strikes by Russia and by a US-led coalition had failed to weaken the group.
"Be confident that God will grant victory to those who worship him, and hear the good news that our state is doing well. The more intense the war against it, the purer it becomes and the tougher it gets," Baghdadi added.
The authenticity of the message, posted on Saturday on Twitter accounts that have published Islamic State statements in the past, could not be verified.
It slammed Saudi Arabia's efforts to set up a coalition of Muslim nations to fight his group.
"If it was an Islamic coalition, it would have declared itself free from its Jewish and Crusader lords and made the killing the Jews and the liberation of Palestine its goal," the message said.