The Islamic State is “happy” about the air strikes by the United States because it validates their efforts in emerging as a global threat, says a man who escaped after a month with the group.
Ahmad Rashidi was captured by the Islamic State when he went to Syria from London to retrieve the two daughters of a family friend; the teenage girls had fled England to marry Islamic State fighters. When Rashidi found one of the girls, her husband accused him of being a spy and he was taken prisoner and tortured. He later won the favor of his capturers by telling them he was a doctor; Rashidi is, in fact, a first-year medical student.
While embedded with the Islamic State for a month, Rashidi gained access to their computers and communications. He told NBC News’s Richard Engel that the group communicates with its contacts “every day” and is not worried about the West’s response to its attacks. In fact, the Islamic State was “happy” about the American military’s response of air strikes because it proved to the group’s leaders that they were considered as important a threat as al-Qaeda.
“They want to be more . . . better than al-Qaeda,” he told Engel. “This is why they need to do something more brutal than the World Trade Center.”
Rashidi said the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this month did not surprise him, and expects more attacks that will be “very, very big.” He eventually escaped and is now wanted by the Islamic State.