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VOA Exclusive: American Joins Fight against Islamist State

While the United States and other Western nations worry about their citizens joining Islamist State forces, at least one American is now battling against IS forces. Brian Wilson, who says he is a U.S. military veteran from Ohio, has joined a Kurdish group called the YPG, which stands for Kurdish People’s Protection Units.

In an exclusive interview with a reporter for VOA’s Kurdish Service, Zana Omer, Wilson said that the American people should pressure their elected representatives to provide more aid to Kurdish fighters. According to Wilson, the YPG is well-situated and capable of defeating IS troops, but it needs help. “They have been fighting them more than two years now,” he said, but “if they had better weapons, better technology, it would be a lot easier for them.”

When asked why he decided to fight on the side of the Kurds, Wilson said he wanted to help the Kurdish people. Though he doesn’t speak Kurdish, Wilson said he has managed to learn enough of the language to communicate with his fellow soldiers. His interview with VOA took place in the Syrian city of Qamishli.

U.S. law does not prevent Americans from joining foreign forces, as long as these groups have not been classified as terrorist organizations. The YPG has been linked to the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey, which has been classified as a terror group, but the YPG itself has not been given a terror designation.