A French journalist held captive by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) spoke out against international aerial campaign to tackle the extremist group that is quickly gaining support throughout Europe, saying the air strikes are nothing but “a trap.”
In an interview with The Syria Campaign, Nicolas Henin said the most effective way to beat (ISIS) would be to provide Syrians with safety by establishing no-fly zones across all opposition-held areas in the country.
“Strikes on ISIS are a trap,” said Henin, who was held by ISIS for nearly 10 months alongside other hostages including U.S. journalist James Foley, who was later executed.
The coalition bombing, argued Henin, is pushing people into the hands of ISIS.
“The winner of this war will not be the party that has the newest, the most expensive or the most sophisticated weaponry, but the party that manages to win over the people on its side.”
Mohammed Emwazi was one of my captors.
He is the one who murdered my friends.
I can’t prevent myself from thinking about the six murders that he committed in front of the camera.
Murders of Westerners.
How many Syrians did he kill? And who cares about them?
They have a vision of the world that is self-coherent.
The point is that this vision is like a parallel world.
One of these Western jihadis was telling me always about the movie “The Matrix.”
Telling me, “Oh, now we are living in a different matrix. Now we left the matrix.”
And it’s very much like this.
They follow the news intensively.
And every single event that happens in the world, they will see it as a confirmation of their belief.
Because they believe in a kind of a mad prophecy that there will be a global confrontation that will bring a coalition of 80 armies against an army of Muslims coming from all over the world.
It’s, I think, a good example of the fact that these people are a bit out of their minds.
Why are we making so many mistakes?
Why are people so much misunderstanding the region?
We are just fueling our enemies and fueling the misery, the disaster for the local people.
This radicalization is the result, first of all, of the terrible repression made by the Syrian regime against this revolution; and second, it’s the result of the passivity of the world.
The international community failed to assist the Syrian democrats as they were yelling for their freedom.
And the Syrians were living in total despair.
There has been large use of chemical weapons that are still being used regularly, as the UN found, and barrel bombs.
And at the moment, barrel bombs are the biggest single cause of death for Syrian civilians.
For every single Syrian civilian killed since the beginning of this conflict by the Islamic State, between 7 to 10 have been killed by the Syrian regime.
We have to understand that these are two parallel disasters for the Syrian people, and they depend one on the other.
And one cannot fight one without fighting the other.
The refugee crisis last summer was a blow to ISIS propaganda.
We have seen hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing this Muslim land that is like a dream land for ISIS that they want to establish.
It’s like their Israel.
And fleeing that land to go to the land of unbelievers.
And what else did we witness?
We witnessed that these refugees were welcomed and that the speech on the Western hatred towards Muslims was a scam.
And this is why they probably tried to manipulate the public during the Paris attack, to make us close our borders; and maybe even more importantly, close our minds.
Strikes on ISIS are a trap.
The winner of this war will not be the party that has the newest, the most expensive or the most sophisticated weaponry, but the party that manages to have the people on its side.
At the moment, with the bombings, we are more like pushing the people into the hands of ISIS.
What we have to do – and this is really key – we have to engage the local people.
As soon as the people will have hope in a political solution, then the Islamic State will just collapse.
It will have no ground anymore.
It will collapse.
Actually, there is a very easy way to make the Islamic State lose ground at high speed.
It would be for the international community to take the decision that all of the Syrian regions that are held by the opposition,have no-fly zones.
No-fly zones for everybody – not the Coalition, not the Russians, not the regime.
So, actually, providing security to the people would be devastating for ISIS, and this is what the international community should focus on.
Top image: French President Francois Hollande, third from left, speaks upon arrivals of released French hostages, from left, Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres, at the Villacoublay military airbase, outside Paris on April 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, File)