‘Keep 1 round for each other’: Brits fighting ISIS agree death pact, won’t submit to capture
Two ex-soldiers who travelled from Britain to Syria to join Kurdish troops fighting Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) said the battlefield “was like World War I.” They also revealed they had a plan to kill each other rather than face capture.
Jamie Read and James Hughes, who have returned home to see their families, revealed they had panic alarms fitted to their homes for fear of reprisals by British extremists.
The former soldiers decided to travel to Syria to fight ISIS after the British aid volunteer Alan Henning was murdered by militants. They said they could not stand by while innocent people were being killed.
Read, 24, told Sky News that he and Hughes, 26, “felt compelled” to take up arms, adding, “I could not justify sitting back in the UK and watching IS pretty much do what they like.”
“The counterterrorism police have got our houses red-flagged in the sense of if any calls come out from that area they will be straight to our house. We have got panic alarms fitted in both our houses now.”
Describing their arrival in Syria, the men said: “When we got to the safe house ... it's sort of dodgy-looking, so you think, ‘I don't really like this.’ At one point, you think, ‘Is this the point I'm going to get handed over?’”
In the interview, they described spending hours lying in the “pitch black” in no-man's land. They revealed that they had sold possessions to fund their flights to fight ISIS and had returned to the UK to “mounting debts and bills.”
Upon their return they were detained at Heathrow Airport and questioned for six hours. When released the men were placed under monitoring by counterterrorism police.
They also said they had agreed to take their own lives rather than submit to capture by ISIS. “If at any one point we honestly, genuinely felt they were coming for us, it's definitely over, if we had rounds on us, if we had weapons on us then keep one for yourself,” Read said.
“We wouldn't get captured, bottom line, we couldn't get captured, we're not getting our heads paraded on YouTube, we made that vow before we went out.
“Everybody out there is carrying a round for themselves. Nobody wants to be captured by IS. Nobody wants to end up on YouTube getting their head cut off.
“So for us, as harsh as it sounds, it's probably the better way to go. It's the old saying, ‘you keep a round for each other.’”
Taxi driver Henning, 47, was beheaded by a masked militant known as Jihadi John in a video released online in October. To date, ISIS has posted five videos online showing the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British aid workers Henning and David Haines, and US aid worker Peter Kassig.
Asked whether they would return to Syria, Read said: “I'd like to think we would have the opportunity to go back.”
“I'm unsure on the political stance – I'm not sure whether our government would appreciate us going back.”