Reports indicate about 100 U.S. civilians in all have volunteered to become vigilante fighters against ISIL. What motivates them to travel a world away and insert themselves in the front lines of another country’s war?
CCTV America’s Hendrik Sybrandy talked to some of those closest to Levi Shirley.
Levi \"Jack\" Shirley: Volunteer anti-terrorism fighterThe U.S. government says it is working to repatriate the bodies of three Americans killed this summer as they fought alongside Kurdish soldiers to re-take the Syrian city of Manbij from ISIL. One of them was Levi Shirley, a 24-year-old resident of Colorado. CCTV's Hendrik Sybrandy talked to some of those closest to Levi Shirley.
Levi “Jack” Shirley’s friends and family gathered to remember him last week on what would have been his 25th birthday.
“I feel like he would really appreciate how much people have put themselves to be out here and say hi to him,” said Susan Shirley, Jack’s mother.
Jack died in July after stepping on a land mine while fighting with Kurdish forces in Syria. He was among those battling ISIL.
Shirley’s father had served in Vietnam. Jack set his sights on joining the U.S. Marines but it was his poor eyesight that led the military to reject his application.
Jack’s friend, Randy Mutchler, said Jack was convinced that ISIL represented a major threat to the Middle East. Then came the ISIL-inspired attack in San Bernardino, California. Jack told his mother that “this is like unacceptable atrocities.”
“We’re not gonna just sit here in the United States and watch while ISIS takes over the world,” he said.
With the help of Facebook, Jack joined the Kurdish People’s Protection Units or YPG. He came home once, but then traveled back to Syria earlier this year.
“He felt guilty that he was at home lying in his bed every night safe while the friendships and the brothers he had made over there were still in danger and he didn’t feel right about it,” Mutchler said.
“It’s crazy. You never think it’s going to happen to somebody you know,” Mutchler said Jack died fighting for justice.
Jack went to Syria when he didn’t have to in an attempt to help right a wrong.