ISIS expert tells Upfront “They want Muslims to choose between them”
- “They’re baiting us” – Lydia Wilson
- “This is a clear strategy to be brutal, to change the behavior of the enemy” – Jurgen Todenhofer
- “They want Muslims to choose between being part of societies that don’t want them, or joining the Islamic State” – Will McCants
- “ISIS has always had this mindset the West would go after them even if they don’t do anything in the West” – Hassan Hassan
In an exclusive and special discussion on Al Jazeera English’s flagship current affairs show, ‘UpFront’, four of the world’s leading authorities on ISIL discussed what the group aims to achieve by carrying out attacks around the world.
If we believe what they say, and I do…They’re baiting us,” said Lydia Wilson, a research fellow at Oxford University’s Center for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict.
Wilson, who recently interviewed ISIL fighters in northern Iraq, believes ISIL wants Western countries to attack them at home.
“They’re inspiring terror and drawing the Western powers, or the unbelieving powers…into wars that they cannot afford or draw them directly into the region not just by proxies,” she said. “[Terror attacks] produce the response that we are giving them,” she added.
Jurgen Todenhofer, the first Western journalist to be granted access to ISIL controlled territory, weighed in saying, “I think the brutality of these terrorists is their strategy. They want the Western governments to overreact, to send bombers, to kill civilians, and this is a terror breeding program.”
“This is a clear strategy, to be brutal to change the behavior of the enemy,” he added.
Also joining the “UpFront” special roundtable was Will McCants, a former State Department senior adviser on countering violent extremism, and author of the new book “The ISIS Apocalypse.” He explained how ISIL’s attacks intend to polarise and act as a recruitment tool.
“The Islamic State is seeking, particularly in the West, to make Muslims face a choice,” he said. “They want Muslims to choose between being part of societies that don’t want them or joining the Islamic State.”
“And the more that they can cultivate anger among non-Muslims in the West against Muslims, cultivate paranoia against them, the more they hope to be able to recruit from the resulting alienation amongst Muslims in the West,” he added.
Rounding out the panel was Hassan Hassan, co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” but who believes ISIL would prefer the West not attack them.
“If ISIS had a choice, I think it would have wanted the West to stay away from it,” he said.
“However, I think ISIS has always had this mindset of the West would go after them even if they don’t do anything in the West,” he added.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Short preview of this show: https://www.facebook.com/AJUpFront/videos/1501183090190356/
This UpFront special on ISIL is airing this Friday February 19th. The segments will be available through this link: www.aljazeera.com/upfront from 19.30GMT onwards. Please add this link to your online copy if quotes are used.
Please credit Al Jazeera English and ‘UpFront’ if you plan to use any quotes from this ISIL special.
UpFront, hosted by Mehdi Hasan, broadcasts on Fridays at 19.30 GMT.
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