Why Hollywood actor decided to fight ISIS in Syria?

Pirates of the Caribbean actor Michael Enright has travelled from Los Angeles to Syria to take up arms against ISIS.

Mohammed Hassan via AP
Michael Enright (l.) in Kurdish fighters military uniform, carries an AK-47 while standing next to Kurdish journalist Mohammed Hassan in Syria on Jun. 1, 2015.

Michael Enright has landed a new role. The British-born actor with a history of playing Russian gangsters and other rough characters in film and television, has joined the fight against ISIS.

Mr. Enright, who played a deckhand in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, left Hollywood for Syria more than three months ago to join Kurdish fighters. A video released by Kurdish People’s Protection Units, YPG, on Tuesday shows him in a military outfit shooting a Kalashnikov rifle from a trench.

"ISIS, they need to be wiped off, completely, the face of this earth," Enright said in an interview with Dubai-based station Al Aan TV posted online last week. "They are a stain on humanity and this is a call. It's not just a Kurdish call, this is a call to humanity to obliterate them."

Enright is not the first foreigner who traveled to the Middle East to fight ISIS. Over the past two years, hundreds of foreigners, many of them with no prior combat experience, have joined the battle against ISIS.

But most of those traveling to the region to fight are seeking to do so for the other side. The United Nations estimates that there are more than 25,000 "foreign terrorist fighters" from over 100 countries in the region fighting for ISIS or the Al-Nusra Front, Syria's al-Qaeda franchise.

While ISIS is a unified group gathered around one ideology – building a Caliphate – those battling ISIS come from a variety of ideological backgrounds and are not necessarily in contact with one another.

American filmmaker Matthew VanDyke trains Iraqi Christians in military tactics. In March, the New York Times profiled Patrick Maxwell, a former US marine, who last fall joined Kurdish peshmerga forces in Iraq as one of "a small number of Americans" joining the fight against ISIS.

The Times cites a spokesman for the People's Protection Units who said that more than 100 American citizens are currently fighting in Syria.

And last fall, the Dutch government gave its blessing to motorcycle gangs to travel to the region to battle the Islamic State.

While their motivations vary widely, many of those who travel to the region to fight ISIS say that they are appalled by the militant group's atrocities, and are there to put an end to it. Enright says that he is ready to die for it.

“I didn’t come here to run. I came here to fight and if I have to die, then I die,” Enright told Al  Aan TV. “I wrote all my friends and family cause I might not see them again. I told them I love them and I hope to see them again. We are in a war so I don’t know whether that would be in this life or in the next.”

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