NEW DELHI: Jürgen Todenhöfer, journalist, executive and publicist, became the first western journalist allowed to travel to Mosul and cover the Islamic State (IS), following seven months of negotiations. Todenhöfer was accompanied by his son, who filmed interviews with Islamic State fighters. Todenhöfer has now returned to Germany and plans to publish his “10 days in the Islamic State,” but interviews with German-language media outlets provide a glimpse into his experience. The group, Todenhöfer says, is "much stronger and much more dangerous" than the West realizes.

Todenhöfer, speaking with TZ, says that the group enjoys unprecedented support. It is "an almost ecstatic enthusiasm that I have never encountered in any other warzone,” Todenhöfer said. Hundreds of fighters are, according to Todenhöfer, arriving to support the group every day from all parts of the world at an “incomprehensible” scale. Their aim, Todenhöfer says, is to "plan the biggest religious cleansing in history."

Because of the scale of support, defeating the Islamic State is going to prove to be a difficult task. If the US were to bomb the militants, "they would have to reduce the whole of Mosul to ashes,” Todenhöfer reckons. In fact, contradicting reports that US-led airstrikes are making an impact against IS in the region, Todenhöfer argues that "with every bomb that is dropped and hits a civilian, the number of terrorists increases.”

Todenhöfer said that he was able to move amongst IS fighters, observing their living conditions and equipment. He posted a series of photos on his Facebook page that seem to show IS fighters with German Heckler & Koch MG3 machine guns. “Someday this German MG could be directed to us,” he said.

(Photo credit: Jürgen Todenhöfer Facebook page).

The image posted above reads, (as translated by Bing):

“Dear friends, this afternoon I came back from the "Islamic State". I had negotiated the necessary security guarantees in months Skype talks with the leadership of the "caliphate". Allegedly, I was the first Western journalist of the world which was able to visit the 'Islamic State'. IS known that I had been to the 'Islamic State' several times very critical. Here on Facebook and in the German press. I never underestimated the dangers of this trip.

The discussions and experiences in the Iraqi and Syrian part of the "Islamic States" were dramatic. The security situation also. Read more about it in the next few days. I ran evening yesterday with my luggage near a Turkish shooting Tower on foot through a path of smugglers in Turkey, was a perceived burden of 1000 tons of my shoulders. I'm very happy that I am again in Germany. My family also. There have been many tears.

I have not undertaken this difficult journey, because Pope Franziskus had recently requested, you must talk IS also. It's because I'm talking about over 50 years of experience with all sides. In Syria I - said by some desk strategists sharply criticized - with President Assad, but also with Al Qaida and the FSA. In Afghanistan several times with President Karzai and leaders of the Taliban. And during the Iraq war with the Shiite Government of Iraq and the Sunni resistance.

The disasters in the United States in Afghanistan, the Iraq, Libya and other countries have got inside, incurred partly because they wanted to see United States not with their opponents and often even they did not know. However, ignorance must remain not the sad hallmark of the Western Middle East policy. Who wants to defeat his enemies, you should know them. The IS is more powerful and dangerous than many Western politicians know.

In the next few days I will announce further details of my ten-day research in the 'Islamic State'. But now I am first of all dog tired.”

(Photo credit: Jürgen Todenhöfer Facebook page).

The image posted above reads, (as translated by Bing):

“Dear friends, the weapon of this IS militant in Mosul a Heckler & Koch MG3 is machine gun from Germany. The IS can buy almost any weapon. Weapons like hiking to the one who pays the best. Someday this German MG could be directed to us. What madness!”

Speaking in a TV interview with RTL’s Nachtjournal programme, Todenhöfer said that IS had worked hard to establish itself as a functioning state, with “social welfare”, a “school system”, and to his surprise, plans to provide education to girls.

IS, Todenhöfer said, believed that “all religions who agree with democracy have to die”. The group plans to “conquer the world” and all who do not believe in the group’s interpretation of the Koran will be killed, he said. The only other religions to be spared were the “people of the book” – Jews and Christians. “This is the largest religious cleansing strategy that has ever been planned in human history”, he told RTL.

In Todenhöfer’s view, IS is going to make further gains, and perhaps reach a level where they will come to the west to negotiate co-existence. What, or rather who, can stop them? Moderate sunnis in Iraq, Todenhöfer believes. “If you want to defeat an opponent, you must know him.”