American 'Soldier for Christ' fights ISIS

by Will Hall, |
Brett, who prefers not to mention his last name, is an American Christian veteran fighting in Iraq, not representing the U.S. Army, but as part of a militia group known as the Nineveh Plain Protection Unit. | ABC News/screen capture

BAKUFA, Iraq (Christian Examiner) -- A young Christian veteran from Detroit, Michigan, is using his military experience gained from fighting for the U.S. Army in Iraq -- he survived an IED attack on his Humvee while serving in the infamous "Triangle of Death" from 2006-2007 -- to return there to defend the Christian minority in the area against Islamic State jihadists.

In a Feb. 24 ABC News article, Brett, who asked his last name not be used, said his motivation was simply his desire to be a good follower of Christ.

"People ask me, 'Why you?'" But, he says the real question should be, "Where's everyone else?"

Brett said Jesus commands Believers to defend the defenseless and taking care of "the least of them."

"I take that very seriously," he said.

Now in Bakufa about 20 miles north of ISIS-controlled Mosul, he has joined Assyrian Christians in a militia guarding hamlets in the Nineveh province.

The Assyrians are an indigenous Christian group in Iraq, who are descendants of the ancient Mesopotamians, and, Bakufa is the site of the 200-year-old St. Gorgiz Monastery which is an important religious center for Christians.

But Brett is not the only American Christian to feel a commitment to protect the Christian minority in Iraq.

According to the Baltimore Sun in a Feb 23 report, a Maryland native, Matthew Van Dyke, has formed a company, Sons of Liberty International, "to help raise and train a Christian army of 2,000 men to fight ISIS in Iraq."

In an email, Van Dyke wrote about his aim to provide "free military consulting and training to populations facing threats from terrorists, insurgent troops and oppressive regimes."

Unlike Brett, Van Dyke has no known ties to the U.S. military, but he also is part of the Christian militia known as Nineveh Plain Protection Units.

The Assyrian Christian population has dwindled from about 120,000 in strength to fewer than 3,000 because of the Islamic extremists who now control the area and are cleansing Christian towns. ISIS demands Christians convert to Islam or pay a tax for being a non-Muslim, or otherwise be killed.

"The Assyrians want their land back and they -- as well as the Turkmen and the Yazidis [other ethnic/religious minorities in predominately Sunni Iraq] -- are sending a message that: 'We are going to come back and we are not going to leave our villages and towns and our cultures to be destroyed,'" one Iraq analyst told Newsweek.

The Wall Street Journal confirms several Americans are in Iraq and working to protect the Christian minority from further Islamic terrorist attacks by fighting on the front lines and training young recruits.

"They said they had served in the U.S. military and were volunteering through a nonprofit organization they declined to name," WSJ reported. "They wouldn't talk about their mission or background, saying they needed to protect their identities from Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL."

One of the American trainers told them U.S. officials in Erbil were briefed on the Christian militia but were not involved.

"The Americans want to stay away from this because their view is, if you train the Christians, you're starting some crazy religious war," he said.

"Well, ISIS beat you to it."


4,000 Christians fight ISIS for Nineveh