Actor Michael Enright, who traveled to Syria and volunteered to join a Kurdish militia unit fighting against the Islamic State, gave an interview to Dubai-based Al Aan TV News that seems to have suddenly put him on the U.S. media’s radar screen.
He has been in Syria for quite some time — Breitbart News first reported on his exploits May 13, after Enright had already completed basic training and moved into the conflict zone — but a televised interview from the front lines seems to have captured far greater mainstream media attention. Maybe some reporters aware of his activities in early May thought it was just a publicity stunt, and he would soon give up and return to Hollywood.
Al Aan’s interview generated articles from such high-profile venues as the Washington Post, ABC News, and Time. He is eloquent, determined, and very serious about what he is doing. In what is sure to become the “money quote” from the interview, Enright declared, “ISIS, they need to be wiped completely off the face of this Earth. 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.”
This is similar to what he told the UK Daily Mail in a telephone interview several weeks ago, but now it has the added power of visual media. It makes a big difference to see him sitting there with his rifle (which, as he previously revealed, he has nicknamed “Olga”) and chatting amiably about his experiences on the ISIS front.
Enright explained that he had traveled in the Middle East before, and gotten along well with Arabic people, going so far as to pick up some Islamic prayers and a new name, “Mustafa Mikail Ali.” In this interview, at least, he is a bit ambiguous about whether he is exploring the more hospitable quarters of Islam, or if he has fully converted.
He said he learned enough about Islam to conclude that ISIS was, despite their strenuous insistence to the contrary, “non-Muslim.” As he previously told the Daily Mail, he became most acutely aware of how “horrendous” the Islamic State is when they beheaded captive American journalists, in videos narrated by an Englishman.
“It’s like, I live in America, I feel such a debt to America, I love America with all my heart,” Enright explained. “And it was an Englishman who did it to an American citizen. And I just thought, oh, wow, I’ve gotta try and help right that wrong.”
“And then he did it to an Englishman, and then the Japanese,” Enright continued, reviewing “Jihadi John’s” catalog of horrors. “And then I found out about the Yazidi people. I’d never heard of Yazidis before. If you had said, ‘What’s a Yazidi?’ I’d have said, ‘Is that something you eat?’ I had no idea. And I found out they were killing the men, and the little boys, and turning their widows, and the little girls who were now fatherless, into rape victims, and gang-raping them. And that was… that was too much.”
He said the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for him was ISIS burning captive Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh alive, sealing his decision to fight alongside the Kurds. He praised the fighting spirit of the Kurds, but had only contempt for Iraqi forces.
“They were like the French of the Middle East,” Enright declared, pantomining surrender, thereby demonstrating himself a true Englishman at heart, as well as an American citizen, and probably not endearing himself to French viewers of his interview. “They just give up. They just keep surrendering, and giving all our weapons that we’ve paid for, that American citizens have paid for, over to the enemy.”
News of Ramadi’s fall has reached the Kurdish front. The Pentagon has estimated ISIS stole at least a half-dozen tanks and artillery pieces of American manufacture from the routed Iraqi defenders of the city, plus hundreds of armored fighting vehicles and Humvees. The Pentagon says some of the gear was not in good working order, because the Iraqis were not taking proper care of it.
Enright is probably getting an earful about the Iraqi military’s loss of American gear from his Kurdish colleagues — it has been a long-standing complaint from the Kurds that U.S. weapons flow through Baghdad, which is not keen on passing them along to Kurdish forces.
He said he was impressed by the Kurdish fighting spirit, and chose to join them when he made up his mind to do something about ISIS. “I thought, I want to join them, because that’s my fighting spirit… I didn’t come here to run, I came here to fight, and if I have to die, then I die.” He spoke of writing to friends and family to explain his decision, unsure of whether he would see them again “in this life, or the next.”
Describing the rough conditions of life on the front, Enright said, “I’m good, man. I came here to suffer. I didn’t come here for a party, you know, I came here thinking this was going to be a very suffering experience… I’m okay. I’m ready to go.”
He said the experience of battling the Islamic State, hunting militants through rough terrain and clearing booby traps out of buildings, was like “something out of the movies.” But he is very well aware it is not a movie. Enright understands the risks of what he is doing, but said he does not worry too much about being killed by ISIS in battle, because he is entirely focused on killing them.