German journalist and author Jürgen Todenhöfer is perhaps best known for supposedly being the first Westerner to have embedded with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.
He spent ten days in ISIL-controlled territories in Iraq and Syria, and has now released an interview with a German ISIL fighter, Christian Emde.
In the video, the suspected militant reveals the group has big ambitions beyond its borders and wants to kill all Shia Muslims.
Euronews spoke to Todenhöfer about his 13-minute film which has sparked a row within Germany about the militant group’s ambitions.
Todenhöfer: "Terrorist violence is the fallout of our own wars.”
Kirsten Ripper, euronews: "What’s your view about the raids in several European countries and the Belgian authorities foiling an alleged attack?”
Jürgen Todenhöfer, writer and journalist: "I think that our security organizations are doing everything they need to, but I’m afraid of hysteria.”
KR, euronews: "For years you have been arguing for greater understanding of Islam in your books. Why do you think the religion is treated unfairly?”
JT: "During the last 200 years an Arabic country has never attacked the West. We must explain why we fought wars in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in Libya. And if we are looking for a reason why this horrible organization ISIL exists, we must have a look at its history. ISIL was founded some weeks after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The organization is the baby of George W. Bush. And the violence we face now is the fallout or boomerang effect of our own wars.”
KR, euronews: "What surprised you most during your visit to ISIL-controlled territories?”
JT: "This organization is much stronger than our politicians, Western politicians believe. We have no strategy against ISIL, because to bombard cities where only 5,000 ISIL fighters are, would lead to the killing of thousands of civilians and this leads to new terrorism and it will not defeat ISIL.”
KR, euronews: "You were heavily criticized for your interview with a German [fighter]. Could you have been tougher?”
JT: "It doesn’t matter what I think about ISIL. I have written this several times. My judgment of ISIL is devastating. It was important to find out what ISIL thinks. And I can say to any journalist who thinks that in the lion’s den one could have been tougher, that I can provide them with entry and they can talk with the ISIL leaders.”