The Dutch public prosecutor said on Tuesday that motorbike gang members who have reportedly joined Kurds battling the Islamic State group in Iraq are not necessarily committing any crime.
“Joining a foreign armed force was previously punishable, now it’s no longer forbidden,” public prosecutor spokesman Wim de Bruin told AFP.
“You just can’t join a fight against the Netherlands,” he told AFP after reports emerged that Dutch bikers from the No Surrender gang were fighting IS insurgents alongside Kurds in northern Iraq.
The head of No Surrender, Klaas Otto, told state broadcaster NOS that three members who travelled to near Mosul in northern Iraq were from Dutch cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda.
Many countries including the Netherlands have been clamping down on their nationals trying to join IS jihadists who have taken over swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Measures include confiscating would-be jihadists’ passports before travelling and threatening prosecution should they return.
“The big difference with IS is that it’s listed as a terrorist group,” said De Bruin.
“That means that even preparing to join IS is punishable.”
Dutch citizens could not however join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as it is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community, De Bruin said.
Dutch citizens fighting on the Kurdish side would of course be liable to prosecution if they committed crimes such as torture or rape, De Bruin said.
“But this is also happening a long way away and so it’ll be very difficult to prove,” said De Bruin.
Members of a German motorcycle gang have arrived in the besieged Syrian city of Kobane to fight alongside No Surrender against Islamic State militants who have been attacking the city for the past four weeks.
Leaders of the Cologne-based Median Empire Motorcycle Club, which has strong Kurdish links, have posted images of their riders posing in the city – some of them carrying weapons.
The news comes just after members of a notorious motorcycle gang from the Netherlands were told they had not committed any crime by travelling to Kobane to join the fight against ISIS.
Leaders of the Cologne-based Median Empire Motorcycle Club, which has strong Kurdish links, have posted images of their riders posing in the besieged Syrian city of Kobane. They are there fighting ISIS terrorists.
Four days earlier, the same Facebook user wrote: ‘While others blabber and blabber, our boys are at the front fighting.’
The gang’s official Facebook page says the riders have travelled to the Middle East to distribute aid, and several images show them handing out food to Yazidis in what looks like a refugee camp.
A photograph on a Dutch-Kurdish Twitter account shows a tattooed Dutchman from No Surrender called Ron in military garb, holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle while sat with a Kurdish comrade.
Last week a Dutch prosecutor told the members that they will not be prosecuted for going to fight abroad, because such actions are only illegal if you are fighting troops from the Netherlands.
Public prosecutor spokesman Wim de Bruin said: ‘Joining a foreign armed force was previously punishable, now it’s no longer forbidden. You just can’t join a fight against the Netherlands.’
While several countries including Britain have taken steps to stop their citizens joining ISIS, joining the Kurds is generally permissible because they are not considered a terrorist organisation.
However, anyone going to fight ISIS would be banned from joining the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, who run several of the brigades fighting ISIS, because they are considered to be terrorists.
Blast: A US-led airstrike on a Syrian gas facility in Kobane killed at least eight people this afternoon. It had been held by militants from the Islamic State terror group, who expert Justin Bronk believes has made fatal errors in its attempt to capture the city
A blond biker from Colorado who calls himself “Necromancer” has been voluntarily waging war against ISIS in Iraq — where he has become notorious for his “ferocity and determination on the battlefield.”
“I’m here for the people, nobody else,” Mickey said as he puffed on a cigar during an interview in Doquq, a town south of Kirkuk.
“I’m here for all of those who want to live a peaceful life that has been deprived to them by ISIS,” he added. “I don’t care about politics or religion. That’s not what I’m here for.”
One of many volunteers in the Middle East battling the Islamic State, Mickey — whose real first name is Michael but whose last name was withheld — had traveled to the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq last year.
“I came alone and paid for everything myself,” he explained. “Originally I linked up with a group of wannabe outlaw bikers from Holland. I was not into their politics and they wanted to start some sort of crazy militia, so I left and joined the Kurdish Peshmerga.”
“Look, we all have a past and I’m no different. I’m human, My criminal record back home has been cleared and I’ve served my time. I’m not perfect, I’ve done some bad things, but I’ve also done good things in my life.”
Even though reports of US volunteers fighting alongside Kurdish forces have increased recently, few have actually seen time in combat. Most of the Americans volunteering to fight against ISIS merely serve a symbolic role against the terror organization, kept well away from the front lines. But Mickey is a completely different story, according to the website.
“We call him ‘Sak bab,’” said Mickey’s deputy commander, General Tariq.
The phrase translates to “son of dog” and is usually used as an insult — but in this case, it’s been given to Mickey as an honor.
“We call him that because of ferocity and determination on the battlefield,” Tariq explained. “He doesn’t give up, he pushes hard and sets an example.”
Mickey has apparently become so feared in Iraq that the Islamic State is offering a reward to anyone who kills him.
“ISIS has a price on my head now,” he said. “And I’ve got kids.”
But this doesn’t scare Mickey one bit, according to the website. Just three weeks ago, during a Kurdish offensive south of Kirkuk, the tatted-up soldier found himself in the fight of his life, according to the article, which even seems more like a movie script.
“Daesh [ISIS] was pushing towards us,” he told the Daily Beast. “They were only 20 meters away. By this time I was down to only two magazines. I saw 11 or 12 Peshmerga pinned down, so I started laying suppressive fire. That gave them the opportunity to move and pull back. I only had a Kalashnikov [AK-47]. As I started to move back I saw a wounded Peshmerga officer on the ground, hit in the face. He was in bad shape and dying. I couldn’t leave him there, so I started to drag him. Bullets were flying all around me and I could hear [ISIS], they were only 5 meters away, so I started throwing hand grenades.”
“They were shitty Russian grenades and exploded in the air, but it was putting them down, hard. It gave me an opening and I started dragging the wounded Peshmerga officer. We ended up in a ditch and I knew he wouldn’t make it. I couldn’t lift my head, because the rounds were slapping the wall right above and behind me. It was coming from 360 degrees. Daesh was throwing everything at us and it was effective. The Peshmerga officer wasn’t small and I knew he would only get hit more if I tried to push him over the wall. I couldn’t move, so I started trying to find a way out for us. The Peshmerga officer was dying next to me, but there was nowhere to go.”
“He died right there,” Mickey recalled. “There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t move him, because of all the machine-gun fire. So I took his wallet and his ID, so ISIS couldn’t identify him. I placed his arms in the Islamic Prayer style and hid his body in the brush and weeds. I thought fuck, I gotta get out of here. It was then that I started crawling.”
Shortly after making his escape, Mickey returned to the scene of the battle. When night fell, he and several dozen Peshmerga retrieved the body of their dead comrade.
“I was lucky enough to get out of there,” Mickey said. “You don’t leave a man behind. These men are my brothers. I am Peshmerga.”