By Caroline Hawley and James Longman
World Affairs Unit, BBC News, 23rd December 2014
A German author given rare access to territory run by Islamic State has told the BBC that the group is stronger, more brutal and harder to confront than he had expected.
Juergen Todenhoefer spent six days in the IS city of Mosul in Iraq, travelling there via Raqqa, in Syria.
Mr Todenhoefer said he found IS followers highly motivated and supportive of the group’s brutality.
He said the spread of fighters meant they were hard targets for air strikes.
A former German politician, Juergen Todenhoefer is the only outsider to have travelled deep into IS territory and back. And, considering that several Westerners have recently been beheaded, he did so at terrifying risk.
In Mosul, captured with lightning speed by IS in June, Mr Todenhoefer saw how the group imposes its extreme version of Sunni Islam.
Posters instruct men on the right positions in which to pray and tell women how to fully cover themselves.
They must not, for example, wear clothes that “resemble those worn by infidel women or men”.
Images on advertising hoardings have been blacked out, and a bookshop displays pamphlets and tomes on religious rulings, including how to treat slaves.
He met child fighters bearing arms for the “caliphate,” and encountered recruits from around the world, including the UK, US, Sweden and Trinidad and Tobago.
Rule by fear
Mr Todenhoefer said he was struck by their brutal zeal, and the scale of their ambition to carry out “religious cleansing” and to expand their territory.
SOURCE AND READ MORE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30585783