By Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis
The latest foreign fighters to flock into the war zone in Iraq and Syria are Christians who want to do more than their western governments allow.
U.S. vet Jordan Matson engages in firefights regularly with ISIS soldiers alongside pro-Western Syrian Kurds, according to an interview with Fox News.
“I decided that if our government wasn’t going to do anything about it, I would,” says Matson, who’s fought ISIS since September 2014. “We’re getting shot at on pretty much a daily basis. It’s more of a World War II or Vietnam style fight. We don’t have the technology that the United States military has to push our enemies away.”
A strong Christian who has the words “Christ is Lord” inscribed in his vest, Matson says he decided to enlist when he saw the news reports about Christians being executed mercilessly while family members were sold into slavery and given to human trafficking.
“What tipped the iceberg was when Mosul fell itself and they killed a lot of Christians,” he says. “These people are human beings; they just want to live in peace.”
Thousands of Muslim radicals, drawn by the Medieval-like barbarism of ISIS, have joined the terror group in recent months. Less publicity has been given to the estimated dozens of Christians who have quietly joined the forces of good, not as mercenaries but as volunteers.
A Christian from Australia, Khamis Gewargis Khamis left behind his wife and two children in Melbourne to enlist with an Assyrian militia faction called Dwekh Nawsha, which translates “Self Sacrifices,” ABC News reports.
The terrorists “don’t discriminate when it comes to killing, torture and so on,” says Khamis. “These are barbaric people, they came here only to die for what they believe in, so you can imagine the terror that they are spreading among the families, the kids and so on.”
Khamis says Dwekh Nawsha fights alongside Kurdish Peshmurga stationed at Baqofa, about 15 miles North of ISIS-occupied Mosul. He says he may run afoul of Australian law prohibiting citizens to get entangled in foreign militias, but he’s willing to face the consequences in a courtroom because the need is urgent.
Reuters News interviewed Brett, 28, about his decision to join Dwekh Nawsha in the Nineveh province where Christian villages have survived Islamic onslaught for centuries but are now being crushed by ISIS.
“Here I’m fighting for a people and for a faith, and the enemy is much bigger and more brutal” than when he was deployed with the US military in 2006, he says. “These are some of the only towns in Nineveh where church bells ring. In every other town the bells have gone silent, and that’s unacceptable.”
Brett, who withheld his last name avoid troubles with the U.S. government, has Saint Michael, the archangel of war, tattooed on his back and carries his pocket Bible at all times.
New recruits keep coming. Tim, 38, of England, was turned away last week because he didn’t yet have authorization to join the boots on the ground of Kurdish militia.
“I’m here to make a difference and hopefully put a stop to some atrocities,” he told Reuters. He shut down his construction business, sold his house and bought a ticket for himself and friend, a 44-year-old American software engineer, Scott.
The pair flew to Dubai and from there to Suleimaniyah, in Kurdish territory, from where they took a taxi to Duhok, where they attempted to enlist.
“Everyone dies,” Brett says. “One of my favorite verses in the Bible says: be faithful unto death, and I shall give you the crown of life.”
Meanwhile, hopes for a rapid rout of ISIS were dashed last week when a group in Libya beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians whose only crime was to seek employment in the oil-rich neighboring nation. A grisly video – showing the same execution style and filming quality of ISIS – appeared to take Washington by surprise, which had discounted the spread of ISIS’s appalling tactics.
In the video released Sunday, a masked terrorist, in a perfect American accent, threatens to make the Mediterranean run red with the blood of Europeans, ominously warning that Rome will be struck next.
“We will fight you until Christ descends, breaks the cross and kills the pig,” the terrorist says, alluding to Muslim eschatology. The Egyptians Coptic Christians are shown lying on their stomachs, dressed in orange jumpsuits on the beach. Their captors jammed fingers into their eyes, yanked their heads back and proceeded to cut their necks.
U.S. President Barak Obama hailed the “Arab spring” uprising of 2012 as democracy supplanted dictatorships in several Mediterranean Muslim nations. But now the outcome is being called “Arab winter” as Libya and other nations spiral down into endless fighting among factions, with fanatics such as ISIS stepping into the power vacuum.
ISIS’ shock tactics actually appear to be inspiring radically inclined Muslims because they project the sensation of power to people who feel frustrated by the overwhelming military machine of the West. ISIS employs an easy-to-join process compared to al-Qaeda, which submits applicants to a lengthy process.
The video shows that “the barbarous Islamic State—far from waning and being limited to portions of Iraq and Syria—is growing stronger, now well entrenched in Libya too,” writes Raymond Ibrahim on his website, which monitors Islamic atrocities.