Meet the Americans Flocking to Iraq and Syria to Fight the Islamic State

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A motley crew of Texans, Iraq war veterans, evangelicals, and bored young men are battling to take down the caliphate. 

Adam Rawnsley writes: When a U.S. citizen going by the name “Abu Abdullah al-Amriki” blew himself up in a suicide attack in Baiji, Iraq, this month, he was the most recent example of a troubling trend: the roughly 200 Americans who have traveled or attempted to travel to Iraq and Syria to fight for the Islamic State.

Not all of the foreigners have left for the region looking to fight for the Islamic State, however. Instead, growing numbers of Americans are heading there to fight against the extremists. The men — mostly military veterans, with a strangely disproportionate share of Texans — are linking up with Kurdish groups and Christian militias in the region to battle the Islamic State militants who currently control broad swaths of Iraq and Afghanistan. A new report by the investigative website Bellingcat, released Wednesday, takes the first systematic look at these “other foreign fighters.”

“I may not be enlisted anymore, but I’m still a warrior. I figured if I could walk away from here and kill as many of the bad guys as I could, that would be a good thing.”

— Patrick Maxwell, who traveled to Iraq to fight with the Kurdish Peshmerga

The report finds that at least 108 Americans have made the journey to Iraq and Syria to take on the Islamic State, highlighting the global nature of the conflict and the relative ease of recruitment and travel to the battlefield. It’s a dangerous undertaking, and one American has already been killed in the fighting. Massachusetts resident Keith Broomfield, 36, died while fighting with a Kurdish militia in Syria earlier this year. Broomfield, who had no military experience, traveled to the war zone after a Christian religious awakening.

Nathan Patin, the author of the Bellingcat report, combed through social media posts and news accounts to compile the database. Although Patin was able to find information on the fighters using open sources, the report withholds the identities of those fighters who haven’t gone public in prior news accounts and does not include personally identifying information or information that could lead to their location on the battlefield, out of concern for their safety and that of their families.

[Read the full story here, at Foreign Policy]

The relative online openness of the Americans offers insights into their backgrounds and motivations for wanting to leave behind their daily lives in the United States and participate in wars far away that seemingly have little to do with them. Based on the biographical details offered, the Americans Patin found were all male, tended to be in their 20s and 30s, and stayed on the battlefield mostly between one and four months. Around two-thirds describe themselves as veterans, drawn primarily from the Army and Marine Corps. Texas, even accounting for its larger population, produced a disproportionate number of volunteers relative to any other identifiable home state. Read the rest of this entry »


Seattle Counter-Terror Ad Banned by 9th U.S. Circuit Court

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Of all the free speech legal battles I am embroiled in, this one is the most absurd. It illustrates the crippling submission and capitulation of government authorities to Islamic supremacist demands.

Pamella Gellar writes: This all started back in 2013, when the FBI was running a terrorism awareness campaign featuring bus ads depicting photos of sixteen of the world’s Most Wanted Terrorists.

“We sued Seattle King Metro. Predictably, the liberal fascists in Seattle sided with the supremacists. We appealed to the clowns on the notorious 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And now they, as expected, ruled in favor of sharia and supremacism.”

This was a publicity campaign sponsored by the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the State Department’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program. The ad featured the world’s leading global terrorists. As it happened, all but one were Muslim. Islamic supremacists and their leftist lapdogs demanded the want ad come down, claiming it was insulting to Muslims. The FBI caved and pulled the Seattle-area bus ads featuring the “Faces of Global Terrorism” after receiving complaints “that the ads stereotype Muslims.”

“We are constantly being clubbed with the claim that ‘moderate Muslims’ abhor and reject the acts of terrorism that are constantly committed in the name of their religion, so why would they object to a wanted poster featuring Islamic terrorists who supposedly have twisted and hijacked their peaceful religion? Why would ‘moderate Muslims’ provide cover for jihad terror?”

My organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), believed that this public awareness message was critical to national security and should run. We are constantly being clubbed with the claim that “moderate Muslims” abhor and reject the acts of terrorism that are constantly committed in the name of their religion, so why would they object to a wanted poster featuring Islamic terrorists who supposedly have twisted and hijacked their peaceful religion? Why would “moderate Muslims” provide cover for jihad terror? Why, indeed.

Comparison of original FBI ad and AFDI ad.

Comparison of original FBI ad and AFDI ad.

“We will never give up fighting for the freedom of speech and we will never stop telling the truth about the global jihad. We will appeal to the US Supreme Court.”

AFDI submitted a virtual copy of the FBI ad to run on Seattle transit. The cowards at Seattle King Metro refused to run the ad, claiming that it was disparaging to Muslims. Reality is disparaging to Muslims?

We sued Seattle King Metro. Predictably, the liberal fascists in Seattle sided with the supremacists. We appealed to the clowns on the notorious 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And now they, as expected, ruled in favor of sharia and supremacism.

Of all the free speech legal battles I am embroiled in, this one is the most absurd. It illustrates the crippling submission and capitulation of government authorities to Islamic supremacist demands. Read the rest of this entry »


Bound by Bad Precedent, Judge Rules Against Free Speech in Boston

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Pamela Geller  writes:  My organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) tried to place pro-Israel ads in Boston, countering anti-Israel ads that ran there. Our ad read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”

The ad was rejected, and we sued. Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Gorton ruled against us in our preliminary injunction against Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). No surprise here, during our hearing Judge Gorton said that he did not have the authority to rule on matters out of his jurisdiction. Still, Gorton dropped the ball on the question of “reasonableness.”

This is Boston, after all, site of the most recent jihad bombing in America, so Gorton’s ruling is sad and regrettable. We will, of course, appeal.

A couple of weeks ago I headed to Boston to cover a hearing concerning our pro-Israel ads that had been barred from running by the MBTA. Such abusive violations of our freedoms have become catalysts for historical resistance and actions in the defense of freedom. And these dangerous restrictions on speech must be fought.

Read the rest of this entry »