The founder of Sons of Liberty International, Matthew VanDyke, said in a released statement that his security firm is training Christians in the Mideast to defend themselves from the Islamic State - the terrorist organization that now controls huge swaths of Iraq and Syria and which has committed serial human rights abuses including summary beheadings and executions, rape and abduction, extortion as well as cyber-attacks on U.S. targets. VanDyke said that he has travelled to Iraq to provide the training himself, having decided to take action following the execution of friends, American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. To address what he called a "scourge on humanity," VanDyke said "I think if you believe in something, you should do something about it rather than just give a thumbs-up to the television from your sofa," he said.
In the release, Sons of Liberty International (SOLI) is described as a security firm that trains the vulnerable to defend themselves against terrorists and insurgents. Reportedly, SOLI trained a battalion of more than 300 Iraqi Christians to fight ISIS. On May 11, SOLI started another session of military training focusing on leadership training for officers and sergeants. A former West Point instructor is leading the training. Both of them are members of the Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU).
SOLI is a non-profit and does not charge for its services. "The Christian community in Iraq has been pushed around for a long time, and it needs to stop. I have the right connections and experience to help," VanDyke said. SOLI is seeking contributions to continue the training.
VanDyke is a former documentary filmmaker who is familiar with the Mideast and North Africa. In 2011, he fought side by side with the rebels in the Libyan Civil War who brought down dictator MuammarGadafi. After being captured, he spent nearly six months in solitary confinement until his escape. He returned to face combat on the front lines. The movie "Point and Shoot," winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival featured his exploits.
"Sons of Liberty International's mission is to step in where the international community has failed," VanDyke said. "The future of Christianity in Iraq is uncertain. Supporting Sons of Liberty International is a tangible way to make a difference."
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.