and for "protection" takes along his adult son. Make of it what you will.
Over the past few days, the remarkable story of Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German author who traveled to areas of Iraq and Syria held by the Islamic State, has captivated international media. Todenhöfer has received coverage from outlets such as CNN and the BBC, and he has been dubbed the "first western journalist to be given access to [Islamic State] areas in Syria in Iraq."
Todenhöfer's journey has certainly produced some fascinating insight into how the Islamic State operates. Notably, he says that, based on what he has seen, the Islamic State is stronger than the West believes and will be far harder to stop than it anticipates. But Todenhöfer has a complicated reputation in Germany, and the responses to his latest work haven't all been positive.
By Todenhöfer account, he traveled to the Islamic State's proclaimed "caliphate" because he hoped to write a book about the extremist group. "It’s difficult to uncover the truth without taking a risk," he explains on his Eeb site, noting that he had reached out to the Islamic State through a German jihadist to ask permission to film.
When the group responded and offered him "security" for the trip, he was not sure if he could trust the offer. In an interview with German website Tz.de, he said that he argued with his family about the trip for seven months. When he decided to go, his son came too to film and offer some protection.
The Islamic State has shown no fondness for journalists over the past year. A significant number of Western journalists have been held hostage by the group, and a number – including two Americans – have been killed by them. Few Western outlets have gained access to the area, and those that have have faced significant obstacles.
The New York Times, for example, reported from inside the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa, Syria, but withheld the reporter's name, apparently out of fear for that reporter's safety. Vice News' reporter Medyan Dairieh also reported from Raqqa for an impressive video series. As was the case with Todenhöfer's trip, Vice had permission from the Islamic State. “These are managed trips, so you are there with their permission,” Kevin Sutcliffe, Vice’s head of news programming in Europe, explained to the Huffington Post. “While they are, to some extent, keeping you safe ... you are also an interloper.”............