Wednesday, February 1, 2017

British volunteer fighting ISIS in Syria killed himself to avoid capture by the terror group.

Ryan Lock in Syria. BBC.

A British volunteer, named Ryan Lock, fighting ISIS in Syria killed himself to avoid capture by the terror group. BBC. Lock, 20, from Chichester in West Sussex, died near the ISIS controlled city of Raqqa last December. Lock was with a group of five fighters who were surrounded and killed by ISIS in the village of Ja'Bar. Had Lock been captured he would have most likely been executed by ISIS for propaganda purposes. The Kurdish group, YPG, which Lock was fighting with, praised him and sent his body back to his family after recovering it from ISIS. 

My Comment:
Though I generally think suicide is the cowards way out, I think there is an obvious exception in this case. Honestly, if I was in Ryan Lock's position, I probably would have done the same thing. If there is a fate worse then being capture by ISIS and murdered for propaganda purposes and having your death broadcast to the world, I don't want to know what it is. This is one of those rare cases where suicide is justified and is honestly the right thing to do. 

And I have no doubt that would have happened if Lock was captured. For a time in 2014 and 2015 ISIS was regularly killing western prisoners. These executions were video tapped and ended up on the internet where they can still be viewed today. Fortunately, ISIS ran out of western prisoners to kill and they haven't done so in in a long time. But if ISIS had captured Lock, they would have killed him, no doubt in my mind. 

Capturing one of the western volunteers in Syria would have been a propaganda coup for ISIS. They have certainly killed non-locals in their battles against the Kurds, but so far they haven't captured any of them. If they were to do so I am sure that they would have found some horrible way to execute the captured fighter. Considering what they have done to people already... 

I've always had mixed feelings about westerners fighting ISIS. On the one hand I do admire the courage involved in doing so, especially considering how evil ISIS is. Everyone knows what ISIS does and that's a major reason why people go and fight them in the first place. War is bad enough when you are fighting conventional enemies. To go up against an enemy that is essentially evil incarnate takes quite a bit of courage. I have no doubt in my mind that Lock was a hero just for showing up and fighting. 

On the other, you are taking a huge risk of being a propaganda coup for ISIS. Furthermore, I have never really been comfortable with the Kurds political stances as well. Many of them are far left, and some are even open communists. There are few ideologies as evil as radical Islam but communism comes damn close. I don't know if I could fight with them, even if they are a lesser evil then ISIS.

I do think that if you are fighting ISIS you need to be prepared to do what Ryan Lock did. I don't know if I would have gone with the pistol route myself. A hand grenade would have been just as effective and would have had the added bonus of killing or wounding a few ISIS fighters as well. Perhaps that wasn't an option.

Honestly, I am surprised that anyone would choose to be captured by ISIS if they had any other choice... including suicide. Sure, some of the local Arabs captured by ISIS are eventually ransomed off, but even that is problematic. I think I would rather go down fighting then let ISIS gain money from whoever paid the ransom. Even then though, the chances of being ransomed off are pretty low. You are much more likely to be executed, often in horrific ways. It just doesn't seem to be worth the risk, but I guess some people would prefer the tiny chance of survival. 

As for the battle that Lock died in, I have to wonder why five guys were alone this close to ISIS's front lines. Perhaps they were on a recon mission? If so, it went of the rails and ended as a failure. Sure there is a propaganda victory for the Kurds, but whatever they were trying to accomplish in Ja'Bar didn't work. I know there is a larger offensive to try and liberate Raqqa, ISIS's de-facto capitol in Syria, but what role this mission played in that objective is beyond me. 

I also have to wonder about the Kurds using untrained people like Ryan Lock as soldiers. Lock had no military background and went to fight with the Kurds. Several of the westerners who died in Syria were of a similar background and I have to say that I don't know if throwing civilians into a meat grinder is the best idea and it speaks poorly of the Kurds. Though I do think that the volunteers did choose their fates I have to think that some of them didn't know what they were getting into. 

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