Some truths about welcoming refugees from ISIS: a different take

Interview with Nicolas Henin, prisoner of ISIS for 10 months.
• What startling insights he gained during this time.
• A brief chat he had with Kayla Mueller who was later murdered by ISIS.
• A different take on how many Syrian refugees the USA should allow in.

French journalist and author of Jihad Academy: The Rise of Islamic State spent ten months as an ISIS hostage in Syria. His special insights are startling, as revealed in an interview on 1 January 2016 by Democracy Now [DN], excerpted below (with minor paraphrasing by me). Henin has definitely earned the right to speak out calmly and clearly on this subject.

Nicolas Henin. (Click to enlarge or to source then back arrow to return to blog).

Nicolas Henin. (Click to enlarge or to source then back arrow to return to blog).

• US journalist James Foley was beheaded in August of 2014, four months after Hénin was released. “We filled ourselves with hope, with desperate hope, during these months of captivity. We had to hope, because if you stop hoping, then you have no reason to survive.”

• “We were taken to speak with Kayla Mueller for five minutes. They brought us to her cell. At that time, I don’t believe that she had been mishandled yet. Apparently she had been afterwards. [DN: Raped and abused?] Maybe. She spent several months in isolation, and she — she was impressive. She had a beautiful inner strength. Jihadi John believed that she converted to Islam. But she said, ‘Oh, I just want to correct you: I did not convert.’ And, I mean, no one would dare to contradict Jihadi John, but she did.”

Kayla Mueller, a US citizen. (Click to enlarge or to source then back arrow to return to blog).

Kayla Mueller, a US citizen. (Click to enlarge or to source then back arrow to return to blog).

• “This huge flow of refugees to Europe is a major argument being used by populist political parties across Europe. But that’s a trap, because actually this refugee crisis is a major blow to the ISIS and to its propaganda.
[DN: why?] First, ISIS says Western society is not suitable for a Muslim to live in. A Muslim should emigrate to a Muslim land, and preferably to the caliphate in Syria, because this caliphate that they are establishing is the dreamland for all Muslims. The other aspect, the other key point of ISIS propaganda, is based on the fact that Westerners marginalize Muslim, causing racism and hatred.

However, hundreds of thousands of Muslims are fleeing this dreamland caliphate of Syria. And not only that, they leave this ISIS dreamland to immigrate to lands of unbelievers. And on top of that, they are welcomed with open arms by Western societies, and by many people in Europe who say, ‘Well, you are our brothers, and we will protect you.’”

• “So welcoming refugees is not a terror threat to us, to our western countries. It’s like a vaccine to protect us from terrorism, because the more interactions we have between societies, between communities, the less tension there will be.
What ISIS want is large unrest in our western countries, and a large-scale war in the Middle East.
So we have to kill their narrative and actually welcome the refugees. If you kill their narrative, it’s more effective than if you drop bombs and kill their fighters.”

• [DN]: Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front party here in France, has just surged in the election yesterday. “Yes, because Marine Le Pen, just like all of the populist leaders across Europe, played on the fear of the people following this refugee crisis. They pretend that this influx of refugees threatens our identity, and jeopardizes our security. But this is totally stupid.”

Refugees fleeing from Syria, packed dangerously like sardines in a can. (Click to enlarge or to source, then back-arrow to return to blog).

Refugees fleeing from Syria, packed dangerously like sardines in a can. (Click to enlarge or to source, then back-arrow to return to blog).

• “In France, we will welcome this year between 20,000 to 26,000 refugees. We are a country of almost 70 million inhabitants. I was in Sweden last week where they have only 9 million inhabitants. But they will welcome 190,000 refugees this year alone. They are not afraid for their identity. They are not afraid for their security. But they are of course concerned with the accommodation of all these people and other logistical and practical issues.”

• “In captivity, I overheard a discussion between French-speaking jihadis. Islamophobia was one of the main reasons they decided to join ISIS, because many of the people who go there and join ISIS do so in an attempt to restore Muslim pride. However most of the jihadis I know, either that I met during my time in captivity or that I followed on the social media or exchanged with on the social media afterwards, are just “new” Muslims. A good Muslim will not become a jihadi. I did not meet any jihadi who had a religious childhood. So religion is like a vaccine to prevent Muslims from joining ISIS.”

• [DN]: What is your message to the Republican presidential candidates in the US, Donald Trump and others, who are saying the refugee flow must be cut off?]
“Well, they are playing into the hands of ISIS. Because welcoming refugees is like a vaccine against terrorism.”

• [DN]: What would you say to young Europeans who want to join, who want to become jihadists?
“ISIS will recruit you, telling you jihad is cool, because yes it seems cool if you have no life, no girlfriend, no job, no money, nothing in your home country. But ISIS promises you what…. adventure, engagement, a girl, a car, a weapon, power, money. So they all talk like jihad is cool. However my answer is: ISIS is a scam, because ISIS does not really fight Assad, does not protect the Muslims in Syria, but instead kills lots of Muslims in Syria.
So, for those who want to join ISIS, I tell them, “I understand the reason for your rage because, yes, there are many reasons to be unhappy about your life in the West, or the situation in Syria, or the civilians being massacred in huge numbers. But ISIS will just make this crisis bigger.”

To read a blog with more background on the refugee crisis, click on this link (then minimize that blog to return to this blog).

The Gray Nomad
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. [Book of Revelation, chapter 6].

10 comments on “Some truths about welcoming refugees from ISIS: a different take”

  1. Karen Larre says:

    Wow, Ian. Great information. This is the first thing I’ve read about Donald Trump that makes sense!

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Yes Karen, and I had never thought about this angle. But The French journalist makes a good argument I think that allowing more Muslims in to western countries cuts ISIS propaganda off at the knees (destroys ISIS’ narrative). The US lags far behind Europe in this regard, although in other ways it is a huge benefactor.

  2. Barbara Leachman says:

    I’m not sure what your stand is, but the following quote is ridiculous.
    “Islamophobia was one of the main reasons they decided to join ISIS, because many of the people who go there and join ISIS do so in an attempt to restore Muslim pride”
    Islam is a world view and totally different from ours. Until people realize this, they will keep spouting “Islamaphobia” etc. Every Muslim in this country probably has the same world view. Those who flee from Isis are seeing the truth, however, we can’t suppose they have our same world view unless they’ve been touched by God. Not Allah. God in Heaven. Welcoming them into our countries doesn’t vaccinate us from terrorism. Isis loves it when Muslims are in all the countries of the world. They want world domination and for every country to be Islam. That’s their world view. They feel they are doing their religious duty.

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Barbara, you have raised some valid issues, and I welcome your thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to share. I shall respond to a few of these points. First, Henin was there in the furnace of ISIS, and so he is giving his opinion based on his experience which I rate as more valuable than armchair experts in Washington. Second, in my experience Islamophobia does exist even here in the US, at different levels. I am saddened by this, as I am by people who are phobic about Christians. Third, I agree that the world view of some Muslims is different from our Christian world view. However my Muslim friend in Tulsa wasn’t trying to take over Tulsa, merely asking for respect. Fourth, religious duty is a tricky thing. Since Christians are commanded by Jesus to evangelize, would we say this is a religious duty? I don’t hear these words in current conversations. Perhaps it is not in the conversations of moderate Muslims either (although it certainly is in the conversations of radical Muslims). Last Henin appears to support humanitarian assistance to the refugees, who have left and lost everything, and isn’t this what Jesus would want us to do? I look forward to further thoughts from you, or might this be a good topic for a lunch conversation? Regards.

      1. Barbara Leachman says:

        I understand where you and your friend are coming from. When I talk about their different world view, they bring their culture with them. Have you heard about the NYE in German cities where hundreds of women were sexually assaulted by male refugees simply because they were walking alone in their German clothing–which the refugees didn’t feel was right. Perhaps in their culture a woman who isn’t covered is open to sexual assaults. The same things have been reported in Finland and Switzerland where they allowed refugees to come in. Jesus told us to be wise as serpents, too. I think the problem is greater than we realize. I’m not sure a moderate Muslim would stand up against their Muslim brothers in a case like this. Already in Detroit there is movement to have Shariah law (however it’s spelled.) In some areas it is practiced there already. Of course, I appreciate your comments.

        1. Ian Palmer says:

          Your point about culture is a good one Barbara. Some years ago a fight erupted between some Muslim men and Australian lifesavers at a famous Sydney beach. The Muslim men were protesting scantily-clothed women sunbathers. One of the politicians responded by saying if the Muslim men wanted to practice Sharia law, they should go back to the countries where they came from. That’s an example of one extreme. But there is the opposite extreme. From where I sit, our US culture has become too lenient, and our dress standards have fallen too far in the movies and on TV…..even sometimes in the church. One consequence is the wide spread of pornography which is now included as an addiction, along with gambling and alcohol and drugs. Finally I too worry about whether moderate Muslims are speaking out or standing up enough against the radicals.

  3. Dale Bryant says:

    I know increasing affinity, reality and communication between people is good and can result in much understanding. At the same time, I am wary of too many foreigners blending into our American society when they want special privileges and to change our way of life. Look at the Boston Marathon terrorists… they had it made here in America with many luxuries, kindnesses and they were getting schooled at one of our best universities, yet they were hell-bent on killing Americans. They were refugees. There just has to be a way of checking on these people intensively before they come in and an ongoing monitoring of them for so many years after they come in. Another consideration is that mixing religion of any kind and politics is the source of untold suffering and difficulties among people, and that’s what we have when foreign Muslims come and even when they are in their own countries. Their politics and religion is deeply rooted together. In the same way, mixing Christianity and politics is asking for trouble. There is really too much I could say about this subject and would have to go on and on.

    1. Ian Palmer says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments Dale. In the USA we have come to accept as “normal” that around 17,000 are killed on our roads each year by drunk drivers. And that 100 people are killed each day by gun violence. But that deaths (a lot fewer deaths) at the hand of terrorists are unacceptable, especially if they are recent immigrants or refugees. I guess we feel violated if deaths are caused by recent foreigners, perhaps like we feel violated if our home is burgled. But I do wonder why we don’t apply more concern and energy when our own citizens kill each other.

      1. Barbara Leachman says:

        I think we may have strayed a bit from the subject. Our citizens killing each other is discussion for another day. Good comments from everyone, Ian.

  4. mary Ann Pollock says:

    great blog


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