A German author who recently traveled to the Middle East has declared that the Islamic State terrorist organization is "more dangerous than people realize."
Juergen Todenhoefer, an author and former politician who's been a critic of American foreign policy, recently went into territory held by ISIS to investigate the militant group.
In an interview with CNN published Monday, Todenhoefer noted that he had traveled to cities like Raqqa and Deir Ezzor in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.
"There is an awful sense of normalcy in Mosul," said Todenhoefer, regarding how the city was under ISIS control.
"One hundred and thirty thousand Christians have been evicted from the city, the Shiite have fled, many people have been murdered and yet the city is functioning and people actually like the stability that the Islamic State has brought them."
Todenhoefer also noted that "many of them are quite scared, because the punishment for breaking the Islamic State's strict rules is very severe."
Originally an affiliate of al-Qaeda and presently led by Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi, ISIS garnered international headlines for their sudden conquest of territory and brutal treatment of prisoners of war and civilians.
ISIS has taken territory in Northern Iraq and Syria, taking advantage of the latter country's power vacuum due to its ongoing civil war.
While being denounced by numerous Islamic leaders, ISIS continues to be a force in the region due in part to its ability to finance its operations via oil and a black market on local artifacts.
Oliver Moody of the British publication The Times recently reported that ISIS was robbing churches and other cultural centers of precious artifacts and selling them overseas.
"Willy Bruggeman, a former deputy director of Europol who is now president of the Belgian Federal Police Council, said that some of the artefacts had almost certainly been sold illegally to buyers in the UK, although none had yet been traced to Britain," reported Moody on Wednesday.
The English language edition of Shafaq News supported that claim in a piece written in response to the Moody article.
"ISIS elements use bulldozers in order to get gypsum and wall paintings from old churches, which brings them a lot of money," reported Shafaq. "Iraqi Intelligence Service confirmed earlier this year that ISIS was able to collect 23 million pounds from the sale of artifacts from the Syrian city of Nabaq, which is full with Christian Collectibles."
This is not the first time that Todenhoefer has gone to Iraq to investigate the mentality of guerilla forces operating in the region.
In 2009, Todenhoefer had a book published titled Why Do You Kill?: The Untold Story of the Iraqi Resistance wherein the author talked with various Iraqis regarding their views of American occupation forces.
"The book attempts to explain why this resistance is not only fighting against American troops, but also against al-Qaeda terrorists and the foreign-backed private militias of Iraqi politicians. It clarifies the fundamental differences between resistance fighters and terrorists," reads the description of the book on Amazon.