During Nicolas Henin’s captivity from 2013 to 2014 he was chained to his compatriots and locked in an underground cell, which he once tried (unsuccessfully) to escape.
Now Henin is speaking out about how to rid the world of ISIS for good. The journalist remarked in March that his jihadi captors seemed at times “fragile” and uncertain of their beliefs and behaviors, as well as disconnected from the culture and language that surrounded them. For Henin, that vein of ideological instability and cultual rootlessness is the source of ISIS’s greatest weakness. In a recent interview with The Syria Campaign, Henin said:
“What we have to do—and this is really key—is we have to engage the local people. As soon as the people have hope for a political solution, the Islamic State will just collapse. ... There will be a very easy way to make ISIS lose ground at a high speed. The international community must decide all regions held by the Syrian opposition are no-fly zones.”
Air strikes, Henin said, only help ISIS recruit. On the other hand, the international community’s decision to aid Syrian refugees has been, he said, a blow to ISIS’s rhetoric and morale: “Hundreds of thousands of refugees, fleeing this Muslim land that is like a dream for ISIS—that is supposed to be their Israel? And fleeing that land to go to the land of the ‘unbelievers’?”