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The Man Who Talks to Dictators

VonFranziska Scheven

Jürgen Todenhöfer, the former adviser to Chancellor Kohl whose interviews with some of the most murderous figures in the Mideast has made him one of Germany's best-selling authors, has been called a crusading pacifist.

Famous, not only in Germany. imago

Jürgen Todenhöfer

Famous, not only in Germany.

Just as the beheadings of foreign hostages and journalists were peaking last December, Jürgen Todenhöfer and his son travelled into the heart of the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, armed with a camera and piece of paper guaranteeing their safe passage.

They spent ten days in the midst of the West’s most-feared enemies. Mr. Todenhöfer, one of Germany's best-selling non-fiction authors, had contacted the IS group through Facebook from his office in Munich.

“I ... asked to go over there because I wanted to find out who they are,” Mr. Todenhöfer said in an interview with Handelsblatt Global Edition.

The 74-year-old former adviser to Chancellor Helmut Kohl has become one of Germany's most closely read sources of information on Islam and the Middle East, routinely risking his life to travel and report from the region, in the process interviewing some of the its most-violent, brutal residents.

In December, he and his son, Frederic, who accompanied him on the trip as his cameraman, lived among the young male recruits of the Islamic State, men who had pledged to kill, brutally if necessary, all non-Muslim infidels.

To continue reading this story, go to Handelsblatt Global Edition

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