The first Western journalist to receive wide access to ISIS-controlled territories says the group is "much stronger and much more dangerous" than the West knows, the Independent reports. The ground it controls has "dimensions larger than the UK," Jürgen Todenhöfer, who has returned to Germany after 10 days with the group, tells German-language media. And its support is apparently expanding: "Hundreds of willing fighters arrive from all over the world" every day, and they show "an almost ecstatic enthusiasm that I have never encountered in any other war zone." What's more, in Mosul, Iraq, some 5,000 ISIS members sleep so far apart that bombing them all would require destroying the city, he says. And "with every bomb that is dropped and hits a civilian, the number of terrorists increases."
ISIS continually says it wants to take over the world, and it "plan(s) the biggest religious cleansing in history," Todenhöfer says. Meanwhile, it has worked to create "social welfare" and develop education—including for girls, which surprised the journalist. "The only ones who could stop this now are the moderate Iraqi Sunnis," he says. "If you want to defeat an opponent, you must know him." Todenhöfer, 74, headed to Mosul after extensive discussions with ISIS fighters via Skype, al Arabiya reports. He was joined by his son, who was in charge of filming the journalist's interviews, Deutsche Welle adds. Today he's set to publish a reflection on his experiences, with a book also to come.