Last week, the Netherlands legalized the choice of some members of No Surrender, a biker gang, to travel to Syria and Iraq and fight alongside Kurdish forces against the Islamic State. They are no longer the only European biker gang to enter the fray, as German group Median Empire also announces its presence in Kobani, Syria.
An extensive report highlighting the war against the Islamic State from the perspective of European biker gangs in Spanish newspaper ABC notes that Median Empire, a group named after a Mesopotamian civilization, has chosen to showcase those who leave the comfort of Europe to protect minorities in Iraq and Syria from the jihadist scourge. Unlike No Surrender, a group comprised mostly of various European ethnicities, Median Empire boasts a largely Kurdish membership, so for these bikers, the fight is personal.
The group announced on Facebook that they had a presence in Kobani, currently the scene of an arduous battle for control between Kurdish forces and the Islamic State and have posted photos as proof.
— Jeffrey Guterman PhD (@JeffreyGuterman) October 17, 2014
“Our youths were in Kobani today,” the post reads, “and have told me that they have been shot at but nothing has happened to them. They are fine.” The post concludes, “While others prattle on, our boys are on the front lines, fighting the Islamic State.”
The fight for Kobani has become particularly important in the quest to stop the spread of the Islamic State. Kobani rests on the border between Syria and Turkey. If the Islamic State gains control of it, it would have almost unchallenged passage between Turkey and Syria. While initially appearing to be successfully conquering the town, Kurdish forces have managed to keep the jihadists at bay as brutal fighting continues in the town.
The ABC article quotes one of the Median Empire bikers currently voyaging to the front lines. Azad, as he requested to be called, explained that, since emigrating from Kurdish territories when he was nine years old, his life is comfortable. “We are in Europe now, everyone is fine, we have jobs, money, a warm place, and enough food,” he explained. “I see a bunch of people who have forgotten where they come from.”
Meanwhile, No Surrender, which does not boast a particularly Kurdish membership, announced this week that at least three more members have begun traveling to Syria from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Breda. The No Surrender fighters are on their way to Mosul, Iraq–a city under the full control of the Islamic State.