A former ISIS hostage has said that what the terrorist groups fears more than bombs is unity.
Nicolas Hénin, a Frenchman who was hostage for 10 months, met the people behind the group, including Jihadi John, who Hénin says nicknamed him ‘baldy’.
In an article on The Guardian the freelance reporter says what we see is only the image they present in their propaganda, a slick media-managed appearance, and behind the scenes they are a bit ‘pathetic’.
They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. In France we have a saying – stupid and evil. I found them more stupid than evil. That is not to understate the murderous potential of stupidity.
He went on to say the jailers would play games with the prisoners, mentally torturing them, telling them they would be released then the next day informing the prisoners one would be executed.
Hénin says ISIS’s main aim with attacks like Friday’s is to spread disunity and hate amongst the populations of Europe. They want to create an ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality in an attempt to bring more Muslims over to their cause.
With their news and social media interest, they will be noting everything that follows their murderous assault on Paris, and my guess is that right now the chant among them will be “We are winning”. They will be heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism, of xenophobia; they will be drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media.
According to Hénin the last thing ISIS want too see is ‘cohesion and tolerance’, and the scenes in Germany of the people welcoming migrants ‘will have been particularly troubling to them’.
He goes on to warn of the danger of continuing to bomb Syria – the strategy has proved to be a double-edged sword, damaging IS but also devastating the civilian population:
While we are trying to destroy Isis, what of the 500,000 civilians still living and trapped in Raqqa? What of their safety? What of the very real prospect that by failing to think this through, we turn many of them into extremists.
The point he makes is that hate and intolerance will lead to further marginalisation of Muslims in Europe, which is what ISIS want, to help radicalise more young people to their cause.
They expect more bombs, it even helps their propaganda, what they really fear is unity among all communities – which is something we can all help achieve.