Dear friends, this afternoon, I returned from the “Islamic State.” I had received the necessary safety guarantee after months of Skype negotiations with the leaders of the “Califate.” According to them, I was the first Western publicist in the world who was allowed to visit the “Islamic State.”
The ISIS knew that I had expressed harsh criticism about the “Islamic State” several times already – both here on Facebook and in the German media. Therefore, I never underestimated the dangers of this journey.
The discussions and experiences in the Iraqi and Syrian regions of the “Islamic State” were dramatic, and so was the security situation. I will go more into detail in the next days. Yesterday evening, while hurrying into Turkey with my luggage – on a smugglers’ path in the vicinity of a Turkish watchtower (!) -, I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I feel very happy to be safely back home in Germany. And so is my family; we were all in tears!
I didn’t undertake this difficult journey because Pope Francis recently called on world leaders to start a dialogue with ISIS. I did it because I have never closed the door on dialogue with any side in more than 50 years. Despite heavy criticism from some office bureaucrats, I not only talked to President Assad while in Syria, but also to Al Qaida and the FSA. In Afghanistan, I had several meetings with President Karzai and with leaders of the Taliban. Also, I fostered a dialogue with the Shia government of Iraq and with the Sunni resistance during the Iraq War.
The US involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other countries ended in a catastrophe because the USA weren’t open to talk to their opponents and because they often didn’t know anything about them at all. Lack of knowledge must by no means stay the woeful trade mark of Western policy in the Middle East.
Those who want to defeat their enemies should know them well. The ISIS is more powerful and dangerous than many Western politicians think.
In the next days, I will go more into detail about my ten-day research in the “Islamic State”. Yet, for now, I am tired to death.