A new Islamic State is being constituted in Syria, and no one is paying attention— yet.
“There’s a second Islamic State that has emerged,” says Theo Padnos, adding: “Nobody knows what is happening in the northwestern corner of Syria. I know because I’m in touch with some of these people, and they’re making videos all the time. We just haven’t connected the dots.”
Padnos is a freelance journalist who, in 2012, was kidnapped in Syria and held captive by elements of Al Qaeda and the Nusra Front. He was released two years later, following negotiations led by the head of Qatar State Security.
In a wide-ranging interview with RiskHedge’s Jonathan Roth, Padnos explains this new entity that’s growing in Syria.
“There’s a second Islamic State; it’s right on the Turkish border,” Padnos explains. “To get to this second Islamic State from any European country, it’s a couple of days on the bus. Young kids are going every day — that’s what the guys on the ground in Syria are telling me: ‘Oh yes, we have new French people, new English people every day.'”
The former captive says the Syrian government is winning the war in Syria, but the victory is coming with a cost. “[The Syrian Army] is dispersing the rebels,” Padnos reports. “The rebels have been concentrating in certain urban neighborhoods, and now they’re going off into the countryside. They’re occupying villages. And when the US Army or the Kurds or some combination finally arrives in Raqqa [the capital of the Islamic State], all those ISIS fighters — they will have been gone for weeks. They’re out of town now.”
Padnos isn’t shy about describing what he believes is happening in Syria today and the implications for the United States and the West. “We must develop a strategy that is more powerful than their ‘fade into the hills’ strategy. Otherwise, it will be whack-a-mole forever … If it sounds like I’m advocating for peace with ISIS, well I am. There’s too many of them to kill.”