In Conversation With ISIS: "Only Allah Knows How Much Time We Have"

Swedish investigative reporter Nuri Kino continues his journey towards understanding the world's most dangerous organisation...
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I haven’t spoken to Abu Adil, my contact within the Islamic State, for more than a month.

I sent him a text the other day, no answer. I emailed him, no response. It could be because of natural reasons, that he wasn’t in a part of Syria where they had access to the Internet and cell phone lines. Or that he wasn’t happy with my last article where I quoted him. Maybe he was hurt or...

In a month things have been changing dramatically in Iraq and Syria, actually all over the Middle East. Now, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others that used to support IS have turned against them. That Muslim countries have joined US has made IS furious. And therefore, the terrorist group is now not “just” threatening those countries but also France, Australia and UK and others who joined each other in the battle against IS.

Meanwhile, women are sold as sex slaves, children are being abducted, new beheadings in both Iraq and Syria of non-Sunni Muslims, several new cities either being surrounded by IS or invaded and in some cases, radical Muslims have been pushed out.

I didn’t give up trying to get hold of Abu Adil; I had so many questions that I needed answers to.

Before my conversation with him, I tried to get a grip of the sorrowful and horrifying situation. I listened to IS spokesperson Abu Muhammed Al-Adnani’s video from the other day saying:

”We will conquer your Rome, shatter your crosses, and take your women captive, Allah willing.”

And more threats:

”If we do not accomplish this, our sons or our grandsons will, and they will sell your sons into slavery.”

He also says that all of us are threatened because the US started the airstrikes against IS - we have ourselves to blame.

”It was you who attacked us first, and the blame lies with whoever started it.”

And he makes statements that cannot be interpreted as anything else than a religious war.

"The lives and property of Muslims are inviolable, whereas it is permissible for the Muslims to take the property of the infidels. The killing of infidels is permissible. Like the killing of a dog, it carries no sin. Smash his head in with a rock, slit his throat with a knife, run him over with your car, throw him to his death from a great height, strangle him or poison him. If you cannot do that, burn down his house, his car, or his business, or destroy his crops. If you cannot do even that – at least spit in his face.”

On the 2nd of October, speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School on Thursday, US Vice president Joe Biden named Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar as states that provided funds and arms to IS and other extremist groups in Syria, while he accused Turkey of allowing foreign fighters to cross the border into Syria to join IS ranks.

So now the US is holding their allies as responsible for the mess they were part of creating themselves. Not a word of US’ own mistakes.

What a mess, and we all know it’s about the money.

But what has the person that wants me to call him Abu Adil - "father to the righteous" in Arabic - to say about all of this?


Sunday 5 October, 18:22, my cell phone starts to ring.

I was about to give up on him but it was a Syrian phone number, could be one of my relatives or a friend. I pick it up. It’s him, Abu Adil. The line is bad; I can hardly hear him. The last time we spoke he was about to eat dinner and very relaxed.

It’s different now - he sits in a car, and gives direction to another man who is driving it. He sounds frustrated and upset. I ask how much time we have. He answers with a question: “Only Allah knows how much time we have or what our destinies are. Let’s talk until I have to hang up.”

My first question is about the Nineveh plain in north Iraq, IS apprehended all ID documents from Assyrians and others that were ethnically cleansed from their ancestors’ land. I ask him why.

“We took them because those cities and villages are part of Islamic State now, passports and id-cards from Iraq are not worth anything anymore. And everything must be built up from scratch, also new citizenships. As I told you before, they are welcome to return when they are ready to convert to Islam.”


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An Iraqi former army officer told me a couple of days ago that IS members might use the stolen ID documents to travel to Europe with. I ask Abu Adil if there is any truth in that. He raises his voice.

“You and your conspiracy theories, if and how we will travel to the world of hell, of sins, to the part of the world that is ruled by infidels you will be aware of soon.”

And then he went on, with a very angry tone.

“Attacking us from the air like cowards, come down on ground like men and meet us. Every single country that is part of the attacks against the mighty IS will feel the anger of Allah. Obama, a devil that rules a country built up on sin will experience how it feels to be attacked, when never expected it. We will soon rule Rome, Paris and London too. It’s not a question of why anymore, it’s a question of when.”

I try to calm him down but the man behind the wheel, that I also can hear and he provokes each other. They say quotes from the Quran, threatens every moderate Muslim and every non-Muslim in the world. They are under attack and they will clean the world of infidel blood.

I feel offended and don’t know how to deal with the situation, I am a journalist and my task is to ask questions but I am also what they call an infidel. I calm myself down, no use in getting upset, I need to stay professional but before I get a chance to ask another question, we are cut off. I try to call the number but am not able to get through.

Maybe it’s for the best.

Nuri Kino is a Swedish-Assyrian investigative journalist, author and founder of A Demand For Action – an initiative working in 15 countries for the protection of Assyrian Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.

Follow Nuri on Twitter, @kinonuri.