The United States and Russia may be hitting ISIS harder than anyone, with constant attacks from the air, but Israel is the only country the Islamic State group truly fears, according to a German reporter who spent 10 days with the organization in Iraq and Syria.
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“The only country ISIS fears is Israel," Jürgen Todenhöfer, 75, who visited the territory under the control of ISIS accompanied by his son, told British online news site Jewish News. "They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them.”
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 think they can defeat U.S. and U.K. ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies. But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists,” Todenhöfer told Jewish News.
"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," he said in the report.
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, says 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.
On Saturday, ISIS released a voice recording of what it says is its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi threatening that Islamic State militants would attack Israel. "With the help of Allah, We are getting closer to you every day," al-Baghdadi told his Israeli listeners. "The Israelis will soon see us in Palestine. This is no longer a war of the crusaders against us. The entire world is fighting us right now."