Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
The ISIS Threat
Aired March 3, 2015 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: Good evening. Tonight at 360 special report, the ISIS threat. An hour long in-depth look of the terror group is seemingly came out of nowhere, appears to be recruiting just about everywhere and uses modern technology to spread a murder's vision of the medieval world they seek to create.
In this phase of just a few years, ISIS fighters have established bases in Iraq as well as Syria. They've slaughtered thousands, taking hostages for ransom or simply to kill. They've inspired foreigners to wage Jihad both abroad and at home and have drawn American forces back into Iraq.
Jordan's King Abdullah calls the fight against ISIS the third world war. And whether that assessments sounds about right to you or sounds like a bit much, you'll want to watch tonight as we explore the ISIS Threat.
ISIS grew out of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Its first leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a brutal Jordanian who at a time called the group al-Qaeda in Iraq. They allied with Osama bin Laden to al-Qaeda sharing a similar ideology and hater of the west.
Al-Zarqawi was also targeting fellow Muslims in Iraq. Their brutal tactics caused al-Qaeda to eventually (inaudible) the group, their cruelty too much even for the world's most terrorist.
Zarqawi was killed in airstrikes in 2006 and the group scattered, until the withdrawal of American troops in Iraq and the up rising against Bashar al-Assad in Syria gave them a new opportunity.
A few months later, they rebranded as they the Islamic State in Iraq. In 2011, the group named a secret of religious scholar Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi as its leader. He claims to be a direct descending of the profit Muhammad.
And his ambition spread beyond Iraq into the chaos of Syria. By 2013 al-Baghdadi changes the name again, this time calling it the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and soon taped their first major Syrian city. Their black flag now hanging in the eastern city of Raqqa, becomes the strong hold for their growing movement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Insha' Allah, insha' Allah, we're going to be success insha' Allah.
COOPER: President Obama is asked about the threat in an interview with the New Yorker January of 2014 and compared ISIS to a junior varsity sports team saying, "The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think its accurate is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant."
Those remarks would come back to haunt him, as five months later ISIS launches a massive offensive, capturing (inaudible) as a territory in both Syria and Iraq including Mosul the second largest city in Iraq and Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein.
Time after time, Iraqi troops were either defeated or run away in the face of advancing ISIS forces. The brutally of the group so well- known in the region, many Iraqi soldiers flee in terror if they see the fighters approach.
In the rare public message al-Baghdadi proclaims the territory part of a new Muslim State ruled under Islamic law, (inaudible) with himself, as the head.
ISIS is arguably the most prolific terror group in history in terms of recruiting men with an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq to join their ranks.
In August, President Obama authorizes targeted air strikes against ISIS in Iraq. Later that month, ISIS releases a video showing the beheading of American Journalist James Foley, one of the U.S. against further air strikes.
BARRACK OBAMA, 44TH AND CURRENT PRESIDENT OF AMERICA: Our objective is clear. We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.
COOPER: But U.S. led air strikes in Iraq and Syria haven't stopped neither have their brutal killings of ISIS captives. The vision of an Islamic State and belief in a final apocalyptic battle between Muslim fundamentalists and nonbelievers are fueling these fighters who are now inspiring attacks in countries outside the battle zone.
And there's a lot to look at in the hour ahead, a lot to talk about. Joining us now is Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, also Atlantic Magazine Contributing Editor Graeme Wood who is written a great cover story for the magazine entitled "What ISIS Really Wants and How to Stop it." Michael Weiss, he is columnist for The Daily Beast and foreign policy and coauthor of ISIS inside the Army of Terror and Karima Bennoune, he is the author of Your Fatawa Does Not Apply Here Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism. Thank you all for being with us.
So in this section, let's talk about what ISIS is? What they actually do want?
Graeme, allow me to start with the article that you wrote. I thought that was a fascinating piece. You say that ISIS is, while many people call it perversion of Islam and an Islamic, you say that it's actually in the sense very Islamic.
GRAEME WOOD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes, in a very particular sense. They do look at texts that are that are considered Islamic texts. They look at the Quran, the Hadith and they have one of many different types of literal interpretation of these texts. Now...
COOPER: And they took it on the most violent part.
WOOD: They are extremely selective and they are very strange and fringe in their interpretation. They do care about these texts though and within the Islamic State they do have a collection of scholars not widely known scholars but people who look at the texts and try to come out with justifications for what the Islamic State does, based on those texts.
COOPER: But a lot of the people who are joining are not Islamic scholars. I mean there are people who have been in street gangs. They don't really know much.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: And in a way, you know, Graema's articles the (inaudible), telling us what the true believers believe. But the really interesting question is why is this catching on? Ideologists I mean radicalism Islamism ideology, its been around for 14th century.
ZAKARIA: Why is this catching on now? And what you notice is, it seems to me there are two layers that operates it. One is a lot of this people feel disposes, economically dispossessed, stagnant economist, politically dispossessed very repressive regimes in the Middle East. Remember the Middle East still has 85 percent dictatorship by further highest percentage in the world. And you add to that something that the micro studies of terrorism show of, even ISIS recruitment.
Young men looking for adventure, looking for a cause larger than themselves, looking for adrenaline highs, so you put that all together and it seems to me that's the recruiting tool. You know, the overlords, if you will, have this much more grand Islamic vision, but the foot soldiers are coming in for...
COOPER: But when you look at the guy like this so called Jihadi John, the man who appears in all these ISIS beheading videos apparently from a relatively well old family, attended a prestigious university, so you can't really make the argument well, he was from the -- he was dispossessed.
ZAKARIA: It's not about -- it's not if I can just -- it's not about being poor. There are young people who often feel that they are protest of the world. You know when I was growing up in India there are a lot of Marxist radicals, violent militants, they were called Naxalites in the east.
And now -- and lots of them were poor, some of them were rich, some were educated, but they believe that the world order was something they want to oppose and they wanted to fight...
COOPER: So this is just the latest iteration?
ZAKARIA: This is the off the shelf ideology for Muslims right now.
COOPER: Do believe that?
MICHAEL WEISS, CO-AUTHOR, "ISIS: INSIDE THE ARMY OF TERROR": Well I think there's a political element here too. ISIS is presenting itself as the custodians and the safeguards of Sunni Islam. Look at the history of the region in the last 10 years. We went into Iraq, we toppled Saddam. It's not coincidence by the way. The (inaudible) of ISIS, or themselves ex-Saddamist, (inaudible), Iraqi military, (inaudible) party members...
COOPER: Who were not known for being particularly really in south?
WEISS: In some cases went from, you know, a year before wearing military fatigue and drinking wine and smoking cigars. To the next day in the (inaudible) with the long black beard. Because why? Jihad is the banner of itself. That is the going concern of ideologist. But look, the last four years, Bashar al-Assad when the Syrian revolution kicked off, we had a very specific propaganda goal.
The goal was to create this element of extremism within Syria. That's why if you look at the videos of (inaudible), the Syrian and al- Mukhabarat, what they were doing to Sunnis, abasing them, making them commit sacrilege, saying there is no God with Bashar, (inaudible) was doing this to protesters. The goal was to create extremism within Syria.
COOPER: Because we should point out the original demonstrations in Syria...
COOPER: ... we're not extremists.
COOPER: They were people protesting a murder of children, the (inaudible) of the children.
WEISS: Right. And when you talk to some of these foreign fighters, they tell you we were drawn to the conflict because we hated to see our co-religion is treated in this way.
KARIMA BENNOUNE: I think what so ironic about that is that these movements are at the forefront of brutally...
BENNOUNE: ... in the region. And I think it's that hypocrisy that we really have to go after.
COOPER: Against their co-religions, although they don't believe...
BENNOUNE: Absolutely. COOPER: ... I mean a lot of people don't pay attention to the Sunni- Shia divider really understand it, but...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hugely important to this.
ZAKARIA: But that's, you know, I think the point, Michael, has making it so important because we have to remember, al-Qaeda began a grand global Jihadi organization and then picked some specific goals, you know, we're going to attack Americans. We're going to maybe attack the Saudi royal family.
ISIS began with the very narrow sanctorum goal which was the cost of the dispossessed Sunnis in Syria and Iraq. In Iraq they felt they were being ruled by a Shia directorship. In Damascus, they were being ruled by an (inaudible), which is seen as (inaudible). So it began as this very local sectarian thing, then they established the caliphate.
And again, Graeme's article does a wonderful job making you realize that. And then the goals begin to become grander and more unified. And now they were attracting people. But at heart there were Sunni revolt against shear rules.
COOPER: And it so important, because I mean -- and again at your point a lot of people in the west don't pay attention to this Sunni- Shia Divide or even understand the difference between Sunni and Shia but it is essential because ISIS does not view people from the, you know, that are not part of -- they don't view Shia as being legitimate.
WEISS: No, they called them the (inaudible), The Rejectionist. In fact if you look at what Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was saying a decade ago, the people that he ranked as the most threatening to his project, the number with the Shia. The American...
COOPER: Above Christians, above anybody else.
WEISS: Above everyone else including the Americans. Why? Because he thought, I'll just bleed the Americans until they leave Iraq. When they leave Iraq the majority of Shia will be the enemy that I'll face. So what was the strategy? The strategy was, let's kill them. We'll blow up the (inaudible). And he hated them. He fundamentally hated them. And in fact when he first met Osama bin Laden, one of the things he did to alienate bin Laden was to go on and on about the Shia. Bin Laden's mother was Syrian Alawites, this offended even Osama bin Laden.
Go after the Shia, murder them, disposes them, blow up their holy shrines. Their overreaction, they retaliation against the Sunni's will drive the Sunni's greater into fault. That was the strategy. By the way this is playing out even today.
ZAKARIA: But here why I think its important issue which is, are their goals truly global or are their goals local? Because in that -- in essence or a court, they seem to have this very local goals, but they've layered on this global once. You know and a lot of foreign fighters come from those global goals. The foreign fighters don't come because they want this, you know, save Syria. They come in because they think some grand global crusade.
BENNOUNE: And I think - sorry, whether or not the goals are global, the impact has been global. When we look in North Africa, in Algeria, in Libya we see groups signing up now with ISIS, I've been hearing even in Kazakhstan. People seen videos of young people being sort of indoctrinate or pledging the legion to ISIS, so all the away across to Central Asia.
COOPER: But on of the things you wrote about again is the creation of a caliphate which is central to ISIS which was not central to Osama bin Laden. He didn't believe the conditions were right for a caliphate ISIS, that why they believe in holding territories. So while their goal is -- while their maybe as you say this layering of international goals. It's really in service ultimately of building this caliphate.
WOOD: And that's a major distinction between these two groups. When al-Qaeda was operating, it was really on cellular underground model. And they were aiming at far enemy. They were trying to fly a plane to the building in New York City for example. Whereas the Caliphate they're really trying to draw people in, they're trying to get people there, so that the Caliphate can be strengthen (inaudible) and to expand outward to its continuous boundaries.
COOPER: But, you know, for those who watch those videos and, you know, they attack Shia Muslims, there's 200 million, I think, Shia Muslims around the world, all of whom the ISIS believes could be killed, because their all non -- the incorrect believers.
WOOD: They want inherits.
WEISS: They win because of the demographics. So the in gathering as Graeme pointed out, that's the key. For Zarqawi, how do we retake Iraq if you're outnumber by Shia? Simple, the Mujahideen will pour into the country and they will overwhelm the Shia. And when Americans live it would be even easier.
So, you know, there is this kind of apocalyptic civilizational struggle. But indeed, I think the political element cannot not be stress enough, I mean it's reclaiming right in Baghdad and also in Damascus.
COOPER: But the end result which I though (inaudible), what you wrote is that it's really Armageddon. The end result is the end times which they believe is near.
WOOD: Yes. And they have this end game in which bin Laden in a way had to. An apocalyptic believes is not a common thing in any religion -- in any may religions. What is really distinctive about ISIS relative to bin Laden's view was that is that the apocalyptic end game is going to happen fairly soon and we're talking about in a matter of years. So that's...
COOPER: But they actually believe Jesus plays a role on this.
WOOD: They do. They think step by step it will happen. There will be particular battles and particular places. And it will ultimately come down to Jerusalem where Jesus will return and will save the remaining 5,000 fighters of the Islamic state.
COOPER: Jesus will save ISIS fighters?
WOOD: Jesus will come back and he will defeat in the kind of anti- messiah figure. And the Islamic state will be victories within -- at his home.
BENNOUNE: But can I say while that is the ideology and that is the sort of other worldly end game. The temporal goals are very important too. If you read...
BENNOUNE: ... Dabiq Magazine, I mean this is the political point that you're making. What they're focusing on is the Caliphate, and governance, and taking power and, you know, how to exercise that power.
ZAKARIA: And it seems quite clear that those goals actually often trump...
ZAKARIA: ... the so called religious ones. So they go into the museum in Iraq, they destroy a few of the statues to show how Islamic they are because, you know, pure Islam you don't have any kind of idol worship. But quietly they're selling most of the others.
COOPER: Right. And we're going to (inaudible).
ZAKARIA: They take hostages but then say they take -- they want money...
ZAKARIA: ... for the hostages (inaudible).
COOPER: But not making -- wait, there's a lot more we're going to get to. We have to take a quick break. A lot more to talk about including recruitment.
Also when we come back the military demands with the major offense just getting started today to take back Iraqis they need to (inaudible), and look at what is going to take to try defeat ISIS and what that might actually mean. Question whether the countries in the region are able or even willing to do and what role to any of the United States should be playing? Stay with us.
COOPER: The result of our online Twitter poll, "Should the United States lead the fight against ISIS? 52 percent tweeting No, 48 percent tweeting Yes. There were nine more coalition air strikes today against ISIS target in Iraq and Syria, and nearly 3,000 since the air campaign begin. And this map shows up the area of the greatest one here obviously in Kubani second in Mosul, Tikrit, which hasn't had many is where a battle is already starting to take place. On the ground, Iraqi forces today launch the major offensive and to taking back that city of Tikrit. The fighting is underway to move against Mosul sometime the spring.
And whether on the ground with combat advisors or in the air American forces are in the thick of it. Back with Fareed Zakaria, also joining in two individuals with deep experience in the region, Retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and Former CIA officer Bob Baer.
In terms of that the military situation. You don't think ISIS is as impressive as their early gains made a lot people believe?
ZAKARIA: I don't. I think what really stunned people and the reason that Obama had to almost apologize for his Jayvee Team comment was that they took Mosul. And they took second largest city in Iraq. But really what happen, the gains in Iraq were not so much because of ISIS's strength, it was the Iraqi army's weakness.
But weakness, not technocratic, you know, it wasn't like -- it wasn't over fighting force, it was political. The Sunni's who comprise the foot soldiers in Iraq's army refuse to fight because they regard -- they've regarded, certainly, the government in Bagdad, the Iraqi government has essentially kind of Shia dictatorship. And between two they kind of preferred ISIS. So they melted a way because they don't want to fight ISIS. So with that political problem that gave ISIS this huge military victory.
COOPER: But general, I mean, and you're obviously there and integrally involve with Iraqi forces. Since the U.S. pulled out essentially, I mean you had (inaudible) battalions, phantom battalions, phantom platoons, troops that did not -- that exist on paper in Iraqi army. But the money that supposedly paid to them actually went to the generals in the Iraqi army.
LT. GEN. MARK HERT.LING, U.S. ARMY (RET): Correct. And I completely agree with Fareed. This was an army that could fight. When we were there with them they couldn't fight. I have fought with them. I've conducted operations with them.
But during that three-year period between the time, U.S. forces left and Mr. Maliki took over, we already -- we saw some early indications of that even when I was there. When we conducted operations in Mosul, Mr. Maliki was beginning to replace his generals. And we were seeing the kinds of people he was replace them with.
COOPER: (inaudible), people who had no militaries experience.
HERTLING: (inaudible), no military experience being paying for positions, they just didn't know how to lead. And the soldiers can feel that. I mean, if you go into a situation where you're not paid and people are threatening you, and you would have no leadership, you're going to quit your job too, especially if someone comes in and threatens to cut your head off.
COOPER: Well especially if your general has taken off...
COOPER: ... and it's just low level troops. So in terms of the capabilities now -- I mean, why should anyone believe that after training the military for -- I don't know 10 years, and then three years for them to fall apart, that six months later with renewed American interest and retraining the Iraqi forces, there's going to be, why they're going to be able to take Tikrit? Why would they be able to take Mosul?
HERTLING: There is more of a threat. I think they see an internal threat to their nationalism. And they are beginning to see that the government in Baghdad is now very interested in that.
We're seeing Mr. al-Baghdadi going out (inaudible), the defense minister, the deputy prime minister are all visiting their soldiers, linking up with the tribal Shia and the Sunni tribes and then some Kurdish areas, that never happen when I was there with Mr. Maliki.
COOPER: But you know Bob, we were telling that this Sunni- Shia divide and that place into this as well not just to make up the military but you have this Shia Malaysians backed by Iran which have made many of the advances that have taken place over the last couple months.
ROBERT BAER, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well Anderson, its worst than that day. It's come out. It's (inaudible), headed the (inaudible) forces, this Islamic revolutionary guard Corp...
COOPER: It lead Iranian...
BAER: ... of Iran and this is the same group that will opt to marines in 83. I hate to go back to old history. That kidnapped two of my -- one of my bosses in Beirut, he's really a bad guy, is in Tikrit today, sort of managing this assault on the city.
COOPER: So what message does that send to Sunni in...
BAER: Exactly. Saying, look, this Iran is essentially has its proxies on the ground and the Sunnis are said, we're going to defend Tikrit, we're going to defend a lot of our province which is all Sunni. And this is the Shia-Sunni divide you've just been talking about which is worsening by the day.
COOPER: Right. If you are a Sunni sitting in, you know, into Tikrit and you suddenly see this Iranian force, you see a Shia, you know, Malaysia/death-squads coming in...
HERTLING: You are suspect but I would contain that the Sunni-Shia divide is not what we're all making it. In that area of the country, in the North, they have Kurds, Sunnis, Shia, Turkmen, Assyrians, Chaldeans living together under Saddam Hussein for a very long time. It is not that much of -- it would be the equivalent of saying, hey, your politics are different, your religion is different but they now see a threat. And even though the Iranians are now contributing to the fighting of ISIS, there might be contention. The Sunni tribal members might say, well, these are Shia forces coming in, Kurds force, others (inaudible) -- it is contributing to the good.
ZAKARIA: I think let's see is this works out. I think you're right that that's the plan and the Iraqi government has made some good steps. They are going to try to retake Mosul as we understand it. There are about 2,000 ISIS fighters there.
The Iraqi army is going to put something on the range of 20,000 troops up against them, Kurdish, Peshmerga, Iraq troops both Sunni and Shia and a small number of American advisers. But they will have American drones, there will be American air support. And the idea here is to launch a genuinely Iraqi response, not Iranian, not -- if that works, you know, nothing succeeds like success in military (inaudible) -- I mean...
COOPER: Can we take a look at Tikrit and tells why you think it's important here.
HERTLING: Well and it gets to what Fareed just said. Everyone has been focusing on Mosul, the retaking of Mosul, the criticality of taking away land from ISIS because that's what they desire. That's part of the caliphate. But we're going to see build up. We've seen it already in Samra. You're seeing -- Tikrit is there, Samra is just to the south of that, a criticality important Shia city with a lot of Sunnis there.
COOPER: Very -- not too far from Baghdad?
HERTLING: About half, between Tikrit and Baghdad. After the Iraqi forces take Tikrit, the question is going to be, will they then take Beijing? Will then they take (inaudible)? Will they peel off and go toward Kirkuk? And I think they will or will they continue to open up the supply lines to Mosul to have a direct link between Baghdad and Mosul?
You can't just go directly into Mosul. There's got to be this campaign plan from Baghdad to Mosul with all the places in between. The critical piece will be when they turn toward Kirkuk. Right between Kirkuk and the other dot that's in the middle there, it's a small town called Hawija. That seems to be like coming the operational capital of ISIS. They have move some forces forward to Hawija. It was already a problematic area. It was a bad area when we were there...
COOPER: That's where the (inaudible) is?
HERTLING: Yes, sir. And what you'll see is continual action to drive ISIS out of territory, they're retaking a ground.
ZAKARIA: And the key will be, will the locals agree?
ZAKARIA: It's all about -- yeah.
BAER: That's the tribal groups. It's about the officers and they're watching. And...
COOPER: But they -- I mean, the U.S. toward the end was able to reverse a lot of begins that al-Qaeda had made is because of disenchantment by this tribal groups and payments made to this tribal groups, the Sunni awakening, the tribal awakening. Are we seeing any evidence that there is this disenchantment with ISIS?
BAER: Can I say something, Anderson? We are talking to the tribal, a Sunni tribal groups, approved by Obadi government, by Baghdad. We are not talking to the Al-Anbar tribes at all because we have to pass through the so called democratic process, which means the Sunnis have to show obedience to the Shia government. And they're discredited and we do not know what they're going to do when the army moves in. And if they move in with popular mobilization militias that this is so called death cults, I think it's going to get worst.
ZAKARIA: Can I just complicate this picture even further? What we're really looking at is a difficult but doable military strategy, but that's Iraq. Syria is much more complicated.
ZAKARIA: Because you've got maybe of hundreds of groups and at the end of the day, you know, if you (inaudible), you are in effect strengthening the Assad government.
ZAKARIA: And that dilemma is a very...
COOPER: Right, because a lot of -- for a lot of these groups, the target number is Bashar al-Assad, that's why they going to involved with, that's why they want to continue.
HERTLING: Serious God, it's not coming back together. It's my prediction.
COOPER: We going to take a break. GENERAL Hertling, thank you very much, Bob and Fareed, just going to stick around.
Up next, ISIS recruitment. You heard a lot about it, what is the appeal? Can it be stop? And we're going to talk to a parent who's working to stop at her own son went over to fight for ISIS in (inaudible).
COOPER: Welcome back. We're taking a close look in this hour The ISIS threat. We saw in the last segment the scope of combat operations ISIS. Fighting ISIS tough means something else outside the region, a battle of mindshare with sons and daughters at stake.
In just the last two years or so drawn in part by propaganda videos, hundreds of young westerners have left their homes and gone to join ISIS. Christianne Boudreau's son Damian was one of them. He became radicalized in Canada then fought and died in Syria. His mom remembers the phone calls home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANNE BOUDREAU, MOTHER OF KILLED ISIS MILITANT: I get so scared because you tell me that you had to run because their plane was coming in. It was flight low, when they flew low they dropped bombs. And you ride with (inaudible) and I couldn't stop talking to you. I did want to let go. It ate me up inside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Her son had initially told her that he had gone overseas to study aerobic. He had actually gone to Syria. That clipped is from the extreme dialogue. One of two anti-extremist organizations that Christianne Boudreau now works with. She joins us here along with Graeme Wood, Bob Baer and Karima Bennoune. Chris, thank you for being with us. I'm sorry for loss.
BOUDREAU: Thank you.
COOPER: I think a lot of people hear about, you know, families where a child has gone off to fight and becomes radicalize and things. How did that happened? How did a parent not know? Can you guys up a little bit about what it was like for you?
BOUDREAU: Back then, I mean when everything started happening, it was 2011. So in North America we didn't really know that there was a really an issue going on. Now, you can see the signs just by being aware, educating parents, change in behavior, attitude, kind of that restlessness thought, agitation, you can feel and see cutting of from friends, change in their behavior, more reserved, more private.
COOPER: Your son converted to Islam and at first you saw a positive change.
BOUDREAU: Exactly, he converted in 2008 and it was fantastic. It was a positive change for him. So these changes didn't start happening until three years later.
COOPER: And was that somebody who reached out to him, somebody -- was a videos he was watching online a combination of?
BOUDREAU: It's a combination effort for him. And the other things he also had was group, a study group. So these other boys that were also radicalized that we're looking on the internet had been introduced to it from somebody within the city. They were all gathering together to pray and strengthen that belief.
COOPER: That do you think the way your son was to be appeal of going to a place where, I mean, Syria he clearly have seen the videos, clearly knew what was happening there.
BOUDREAU: The big day for him when I finally got a hold of them once he crossed the border...
COOPER: Because he told you he was going to Egypt for him to study aerobic.
BOUDREAU: That's right. That's exactly it. And I didn't even know, I believed, even when I was talking to him at first that that's where he was until he went off the radar for a month and our security intelligent showed up.
At that time when he finally reached out to me a month later that's when he indicated to me that he gone over to help with women and children that are being tortured, raped, murdered, and to fight against Bashar al-Assad.
If you look at the propaganda that's out there that we don't see on the media, it's really compiling and there are strong messages that are grabbing these kids saying, you need to do something. You need to act now. And all of these others stories in the media are lie. They are making us look bad.
COOPER: Graeme, I mean, one of the things you've read I think and I think it was you that you wrote was saying that people -- recruiters will say, this is the most exciting movie that you can be a part of.
WOOD: Yeah. They'll say that this is the biggest struggle that the world has ever seen so if you're bored at home, if there is something that some kind of meaning that you're missing at home then you can join up in a struggle of proportions that you couldn't even imagine before you are told about the details of this gun fight.
COOPER: So how does a anyone come with that and that's was a powerful message?
BENNOUNE: One of the critical things we need to do and this goes back to what you said influenced our son is to get out the stories of the Muslim victims of terrorism and of groups like ISIS. I mean if you've been as I've been to the cemetery with victims of the armed Islamic group and it seemed elderly Muslim women praying for their slain children. This sort of story that somehow you go off and join Jihad and you're going to be defending Muslims is completely exposed...
COOPER: Because the reality is you're killing Muslim.
COOPER: Because as we've said in the previous segments, that's the number one target is Muslim, so they don't believe are Muslim enough for they are not following the proper path.
BENNOUNE: Absolutely. The vast majority of the victims of Jihadist groups and Jihadist terrorism for many years have been Muslims and people of Muslim heritage, but we don't sort of see their faces. We don't talk about these victims. We don't talk about people like (inaudible), the heroic Iraqi woman lawyer who was executive by ISIS in Mosul in September after being tortured for four days because her opposition to their barbarity. We need to tell the story so that young Muslim and people who think that they're going to help by joining Jihad will find other ways of doing that and will note that that is absolutely the wrong path.
WOOD: And it's worth pointing out too that ISIS has its ideological machine that kicks into gear when these counter messages given, and they pointed out that these people are not Muslims in their eyes. Of course, almost anyone else would say that these people are Muslims, but they would say that the people fighting against ISIS are not Muslims at all.
COOPER: Do you have to defeat into conflict in order to end the appeal for the recruit?
BAER: We have to end the conflict first because if you're a Sunni Muslim and you've don't get in the new ones of the religion or history and the rest of it, you have to look at Sunni Islam as under threat. You look at Yemen, you know, a Shia government has taken over.
You have a Shia government in Baghdad, you have his Hezbollah, which is the effective government in Lebanon. And once you identify what Sunni Islam and peer interpretation of the faith you were under threat and you were obligated to defend Islam. And this is -- the message is very simple, very hard to combat. And in fact Sunni Islam has failed with these corrupt governments in Saudi Arabia, with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and this message is very powerful specially for kids in the west who can identify, you know, the consumerism and the rest of it and don't have a future and this is the only thing they can identified with, it have to stop, that message is almost impossible.
And by the way these communities, this (inaudible) Jihadist communities, I spent a lot of time in Israeli prison just sitting around and they're very pleasant people. I mean they are -- they sound reasonable within their own logic, and you know..
COOPER: But they can reasonably be talking about beheading someone, they can reasonably (inaudible).
BAER: Yeah, they can just switch. They turn the switch. Say, you know, to defend the Islam we have to kill. We have to kill the, you know, the people like us, the (inaudible).
COOPER: Is there something about the simplicity of the message or the, I don't know the purity is the right word but...
COOPER: The simplicity of the message that there is right and wrong, black and white. This person is not Muslim. They say they're Muslim but they're not Muslim.
BAER: And your rewarded a the hereafter. And if you get 72 virgins, that's not the point. The point is that you are for eternity you are rewarded. So if I'm going to offer you eternity and you really truly believe it... COOPER: Did you feel like, I mean I think about parents whose children have joined the cult. I mean, I'm just trying to imagine when you were talking to your child and you knew, once you knew he was actually in Syria, did you feel like there was some any kind of argument you could made that would reach him?
BOUDREAU: I tried in the beginning and it was very difficult because he was already so far geographically, from me. And that distance made it more difficult. But over a period of time I tried using (inaudible), anything I could getting help from anybody. And he was so passionate and believed so much in what he was doing that he was there.
You had to help this people with a desperation that it was really difficult to get to him. Then over a period of time, he started to change and withdraw even further. And you can see that he was getting cold and colder and more distance, but he is surrounded with this kind of type of environment you're going to change. So it was very difficult.
WOOD: And there is the violent. It is the vacuum, the power vacuum and the awful violence in the Middle East. And it's so hard for us to understand which just (inaudible) attitude (inaudible).
As long as he's conflict continue on, we're going to have the phenomenon of the Islamic state, is going to be one form or another it's going to appear here and there.
BENNOUNE: But it is also the power of extremist ideology and one of the key things is to sort of defeat and discredit that ideology and every way possible. And one of the things we need to do is to support the family groups like yours where I think about the Somali education in advocacy center in Minneapolis that was started by a man named Abdirizak Bihi who's nephew 17 year old nephew was recruited al- Shabaab.
He really didn't know anything about al-Shabaab, ended up in Somalia was killed by them when he tried to come home and now his uncle campaigns against recruitment with very few resources. We need to support people like him.
COOPER: And you message is to parent out there you're going to talk to your kids about this, just like you talk to them about drug.
BOUDREAU: You do. I mean we've got the sex education, drug education in school and why is there such a big statement to do? This is something that we need earn them with as well, because by keeping it in and not sharing it. Then you're leaving it to anybody else to do it instead.
COOPER: And your son died fighting in Aleppo?
BOUDREAU: He was just outside Aleppo, in Haritan, which was an ISIS controlled town.
COOPER: I'm very sorry for your lost. Thank you very much for... BOUDREAU: Thank you.
COOPER: ... the work you're doing. I appreciate it. We're going to continue our discussion when we come back. We're going to take a short break. Just ahead, digging deeper on the money angle, this is what ISIS wants, the world to see priceless artifacts smashed to bit, Fareed reference this earlier.
But it's not whole story. ISIS is raising buckets of money on the black market selling other antiquities. Oil, of course another source of income, we're going to follow the money when we come back.
COOPER: Welcome back to The ISIS Threat. One of the latest propaganda videos release by ISIS shows militants destroying priceless artifacts in Iraqi museum. Ancient irreplaceable statues reduce to rubble. Vital piece is of historical record wiped out. ISIS obviously intends to send a message with these images. But at the same time that ISIS is smashing some antiquities as Fareed mentioned earlier.
It also profiting from other ancient artifacts, selling them on the black market for cash. And that just one way they self-finance their terrorism. Here's what Jordan King Abdullah told CNN Fareed Zakaria in exclusive interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING ADDULLAH II, JORDAN: ISIS was fairly successful in taking over territory, whether it was in Syria and more recently in Iraq where they overran banks, and managed actually to capture a lot of money. And then they ran their own economic industries. So they ware selling a lot of oil, producing about a billion dollars' worth of revenue a year.
That's been degraded quite significantly since, because of coalition airstrikes. But they had their own ability to run their own economy quite successfully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Fareed joins me again along with Michael Weiss Co-Author or ISIS Inside the Army of Terror and CNN National Security Analyst Former CIA officer Bob Baer. So Michael, talk a little bit about how else they fund themselves.
WEISS: Well, as you mentioned they sells the artifacts on the black market. They actually have improvisational system for justifying which artifact should be smashed and what should be sold. So if anything is worshipped pre-Islamic Gods created a sculptures, those get powered. Gold coins, Mesopotamian sort of trinkets those get sold through intermediaries to be in Turkey or whatever.
COOPER: So they can justify all of these around (inaudible). WEISS: Of course. There's, you know, again Messianic Islamism it needs pragmatism when it has too. They sell oil, they sale oil to Bashar al-Assad, who claims to be at war with then, he's been financing them for years. They sale oil to smugglers at the Turkish porter, I've seen guys.
COOPER: So Assad who is fighting them, who's under threat from them...
COOPER: He not all really fighting them. I mean his been fighting other groups. He's been aiding them at time.
WEISS: Even the regime says look, we don't make a priority of fighting ISIS. It's great propaganda. Look the head lapping crucifying (inaudible) are controlling one third of our country. So this group which supposedly once what to overthrow Bashar Al-assad. At the same time their not about selling oil.
WEISS: The U.S. Ambassador Fred Hof, (inaudible) he called it a tactical alliance between the two. It's not like there's a command center in Damascus controlling what ISIS does. But nor the priority on taking the war to them.
ZAKARIA: It's an extreme version of something Arab dictators have, frankly, always done, which is to say to the world and to their population "It's me or the Jihad".
ZAKARIA: You know, if you look at.
COOPER: Where is the flood, exactly.
ZAKARIA: Yeah, if you look at what the Egyptian General Sisi is doing, effectively he saying there is no opposition, "I'm going to, you know, jail everybody, kill others, so that I'm the pillar of stability. If you want to bet on what's going to come afterward you can bet on this."
COOPER: So ISIS you're saying actually helps Bashar al-Assad, the existence of ISIS, I mean because from the beginning...
ZAKARIA: Because it forces the -- it gives the population of Syria a stock choice.
ZAKARIA: To give the population of Syria stock choice between, you know, a good liberal or Democratic opposition and Assad, that can help Assad.
COOPER: It also verifies the message Assad was giving from the beginning which is these are terrorist who're opposing you. BAER: Loves him, he says look what you got. This is like -- so his dad in Huma (ph) in 1982 said, "Look, these people are all crazy. Pull the artillery round, knock it down. It's either me or this is Islam chaos." It may...
COOPER: It also important to point out. I mean they also make money from European countries for paying for kidnap victims.
WEISS: Yes, exactly and that's kind of gone under the radar. At E.U. countries I think it paid in hundreds of millions to get eight works and workers and journalize back from ISIS held territory, which means of course that we're negotiating with terrorist. I mean maybe not the United States but European countries have done.
BAER: The French especially.
WEISS: The French. Yeah.
COOPER: And that's what we've heard from a lot of the families American who were frustrated because the American were held captive see their fellow captors one by one being ransom back to European counties.
WEISS: There is also -- terrain is integral component to ISIS economy. The more territory they take over the more people they lord it over, the more they charge in taxation. If you're a farmer and you have 100 head of sheep, ISIS can say give five, give 10, so their charging taxes of the people their rule thus generating....
BAER: It's perfectly legitimate under Islamic....
WEISS: Yeah, the cut.
BAER: The five percent you got to give it and sort of works. And if you're a non-Muslim it's called to zero.
ZAKARIA: But, you know, to look at the solution and end this (inaudible). When we were wondering about al-Qaeda, there was this always this question of how they did get their money? And receives further Saudi networks and money coming from UAE and a lot of it was maybe from states, but mostly from individuals. And how do you stop since it was all part of kind of great unknown.
The nice thing in the sense about ISIS is we understand the economics of ISIS and there are ways to stop it. You bomb their refineries so then their try to sell unrefined crude. You bomb the pipelines so they can't do that. You try to disrupt the economic...
COOPER: Are there international benefactor, states, individuals, Saudi...
WEISS: Saudi Arabia and Europe.
ZAKARIA: There are individuals, but the big money as the king Of Jordan said, that the big money as far as we can tell is selling mostly now unrefined crude. And they seemed to make something like a million dollars a day doing that.
The kind of thing Michael was talking about, they've charged for trucks when they passed by, you know, but all these are things we know how to degrade those capabilities. We didn't know how do you stop some Saudi shake from quietly sending money to towards Osama bin Laden.
COOPER: Everyone, stick around. Just ahead, I'm going to talk to someone who knows first hand what it's like to live under the rule of ISIS. He has seen what happened in Raqqa, Syria at the home-based of ISIS. I want to get your take all of that as well. We'll talk ahead next.
COOPER: Welcome back. One of the best windows unto the world view of ISIS is the Syrian city of Raqqa. We've mentioned that earlier, it's a strong hold of the terror group. ISIS has imposed its brutal form as a the Islamic law in that city. This hidden camera video was shot by a woman who lives in Iraq, a great risk of her own life, obviously. It's a rare look inside a place where public executions, even crucifixions are reported to be a regular occurrence.
Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi is a Syrian activist with group Raqqa is being slaughtered silently which he co-founded. We're not using his actual name. He has to remain anonymous obviously for his own safety. He joins me now on the phone from Syria tonight.
Thank you very much for speaking with us. Can you just describe for us what daily like -- daily life is like under ISIS rule?
ABU IBRAHIM AL-RAQQAWI: Thank you. Yes. The life under the City of Raqqa it's very hard to live specially for the civilians. I'm not talking about how the life is -- or the ISIS fighters, it's the life of the people of Raqqa because there is two different lives for the life inside the city. So the people, there is very, very strong rules for the ISIS. For all the woman must puts veil. And if you don't put -- if the woman don't puts veil, she will be punish for that.
There is taxes on the people, every market inside the city must 1500 Syrian pound. Even there is taxes on the electricity, there's a lot of executions, there is a lot of crucifixions. If you say anything against ISIS, you will be killed for that. It's very difficult to live under Raqqa city.
If you are an -- (inaudible) humble about the knowledge of ISIS, they will kill you for that. If anyone who is speaking against them or taking photos or videos for the city they will say, perhaps you are a spy for the West. They will kill for that.
So if you are making anything that ISIS don't want to do to show to the world or not to -- want to do it, they will kill you for that. Also, the people are really suffering because ISIS closed all the organization that's gives aid for the people. The hospital situation are really bad. I document more than 86 people dying because there is no devices for (inaudible). I document more than 278 cases for forcing girls to manage an ISIS fighter, most of them are under 18. There is a lot of executions, we document. In the last 15 months, more than 57 executions and different charge...
AL-RAQQAWI: You will be executed for any thing that you will do.
COOPER: We have a number of guest I know who I want to ask the questions too quickly, (inaudible)
WEISS: Yeah. I read your piece on the Guardian, I think it was a week ago. You said that the ISIS control of Raqqa is still pretty solid that there is no sign that they are losing their grip. Is that still the case today or do you think that they are beginning to erode their control over the city?
AL-RAQQAWI: Yes. That's -- the case is still like that because, yes, I know that the coalition airstrike are victim on the ISIS. They're killed some of them but, you know, because the ISIS making (inaudible) prison, they don't allow the woman if they are not over 45 years old to live the city.
So most of the people are prisoners in this city. So coalition cannot destroy the headquarters inside the city because most of them are between the civilians and neighborhoods the civilians. So it's very difficult to defeat them. If you want to defeat them you must send the troops on the ground and I am sure that most of the West and Europe, they don't want to send troops on the ground because it will be a bigger problem. There would be a lot of blood, there would be massacres.
If there are airstrikes inside the city, a lot of civilian will die.
COOPER: Yeah. I want to (inaudible) at least one more question.
ZAKARIA: Abu Ibrahim, it's Fareed Zakaria, let me ask you, what are the ISIS guys like? The young men who are joining up, are they very religious? Are the young men who enjoy the power? How would you describe them?
AL-RAQQAWI: I think most of them are -- the ISIS are laughing on that because when they are publishing their propaganda video they think and they -- the Raqqa City it's like a paradise, it's the Islamic caliphate and stuff like that.
But when they enter and they shocked by the real, they said that's not the real Islamic state, that the ISIS are really a terrorist group, they are just killing civilians, chasing women and killing innocent people. So they were shocked in this -- the real life or what's going on Raqqa city for real. But if they want the (inaudible) from the Islamic state, it's their problem because the ISIS will take their passports. And from the first day when they will go into the city.
So like I said before to the CNN, the problem is not how to get to the Islamic states or to Raqqa city. The problem is how to get out if you want to (inaudible). So most of these guys or these young guys, I think there are a lot -- the ISIS is laughing to them, or they are -- just they think this is the real Islamic states or the real caliphate and, you know, because they're seeing the women are raped, the guys and boys dying in Syria, so they think when they are coming -- when they are coming to Syria.
COOPER: (Inaudible) in the propaganda videos. We're out of time. Abu Ibrahim, we appreciate you're talking to us. I want to thank all our panelists tonight. That does it for the special edition of 360.
CNN Tonight starts now.