My Journey into the Heart of Terror: Ten Days in the Islamic State
By Jürgen Todenhöfer
288 pages • ISBN 978-1771642903
"A rare inside view of ISIS and insight into the terrorist organization's methods and hold on adherents."—Publishers Weekly
"Todenhöfer describes his efforts as a brave journalist willing to risk his life to understand and report on the underpinnings of the Islamic State and its sympathizers … this book is urgently needed in a world where violence, ideology, and bigotry seem so seductive in the public arena … Journalism at its best." —Lawrence Krauss
ISIS, IS, the Islamic State. The name is chilling. The images are horrific. This is a group that beheads journalists—and yet one, the German Jürgen Todenhöfer, went out of his way to get an invitation to visit ISIS fighters in Mosul in 2014 to ask them to explain their beliefs. This book is the result of his conversation.
My Journey into the Heart of Terror: Ten Days in the Islamic State shows how the organization grew from its al-Qaeda roots and takes a harsh look at the West’s role in its past and today. Along the way, Todenhöfer offers startling insights into what ISIS thinks, what it wants—and what must change if it is to be defeated. Only by understanding, Todenhöfer believes, can we move forward and combat ISIS’s radical, violent interpretation of Islam and the terror and destruction it brings.
Jürgen Todenhöfer is a German author, politician, a former judge, and journalist. He studied law and political science at the Universities of Munich, Paris, Bonn and Freiburg and received his doctorate in law from the University of Freiburg.
Todenhöfer became a judge in 1972 and was elected to the German parliament that same year. During his eighteen years in politics and as party spokesman for development policy and arms control, he attracted as much public attention for his political activities as he did for his humanitarian endeavors. In 1975, he traveled to Chile and met with the then dictator Augusto Pinochet, paving the way for the release of 4,500 political prisoners. In the 1980s he visited Soviet-occupied Afghanistan multiple times and raised money for refugees. After his political career he joined one of Europe’s largest publishing companies, Hubert Burda Media.
Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 he was outspoken in his opposition to the U.S.’s war in Afghanistan and critical of the planned campaign against Iraq. He argued fervently in favor of diplomatic solutions. To better understand the relationship between the Western and the Muslim world, Todenhöfer has traveled with Afghan freedom fighters to Soviet occupied Afghanistan, to Algiers during the Algerian War, and to Tunisia during the crisis of Bizerte. He has visited other Arab and Muslim countries on countless occasions.
Thanks to his experience in the courtroom, Todenhöfer firmly believes that you cannot judge a case until you have heard from both sides. He urged the U.S. governments to settle their conflicts with Iraq, with Syria and with Iran through negotiations and took up this matter in direct contact with the governments of Muslim countries.