Following the Danish bikers already fighting, a German biker gang named after an ancient Iranian empire has sent a group of men to fight alongside the Kurds against the Islamic State, and have posted photographs on social media showing them posing with assault rifles.
The Median Empire Motorcycle Club, which is active in Cologne, Karlsruhe, Duisburg and Nuremberg and is composed largely of ethnic Kurds has recently shared a number of statuses on Facebook hinting to their members who had decided to take action. TheLocal.de reported one such post which took aim at those armchair commentators who had much to say about the ongoing conflict: “While others blabber and blabber, our boys are at the front fighting Isis”.
A later post included photographs of two club members scaling a hill, wearing their leathers and carrying AK-47 assault rifles. While their jackets clearly marked them out as members of the Median Empire club, the tattoos suggest either the club, or its individual members are affiliated to the Hell’s Angels.
Although European governments have generally reacted to citizens going abroad to fight for the Islamic state with strong language and promises of action, the news recently that some have gone instead to fight against the Islamists has been met with a more measured tone. Following the news of Danish gang No Surrender taking up arms with the Kurds, a Danish prosecutor 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”.
The man, who was recorded in an online video explaining why he had gone to North Iraq said “The Kurds have been under pressure for a long time”.
There has been a recent rise in the number of motorcycle gangs in Western europe in recent years, mainly driven by an influx of young immigrants seeking identity and fraternity. Many have strong ethnic identities and some have terrorist links. Strategic crime analyst Alexandra Jones writes about motorcycles gangs and extremism, and notes: “the Kamikaze Riders MC in Belgium are closely associated with jihadists currently active in Syria and Iraq, one of the Dutch travellers MCs has an interesting association with Northern Ireland (Ulster), and with some considerable caution Median Empire MC in Germany might be linked to the Kurdish PKK”.
The German government had no firm stance on the bikers in Iraq, saying if they didn’t join the outlawed communist people’s workers party (PKK) no crime may have been committed. A spokesman said “This is a really new development, but we are monitoring it to see how things develop… We would have to prove what they are doing there”.