Wednesday 17 January 2018

'We have to see how he is psychologically' - family of Laois soldier who took up arms against ISIS await his return

Joshua Molloy. Photo: Facebook
Joshua Molloy. Photo: Facebook
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

THE Irishman who spent days in an Iraqi prison after fighting ISIS in Syria is now making his way home through Europe.

Joshua Molloy (24) made headlines when he was picked up more last month entering Iraq after fighting ISIS alongside a Syrian Christian group allied to the Kurdish YPG.

The Laois man from the village of Ballylinan travelled to the Middle East region in April 2015 to fight against ISIS with forces allied to the Kurds.

But he was arrested when re-entering Iraq without the proper documentation.

Now he is making his way through Europe after being released, and could be home by the end of the month.

“At least he’s in Europe now, which must be like Disneyland compared to Syria and Iraq,” his father Declan told the Herald.

Joshua Molloy. Photo: Facebook
Joshua Molloy. Photo: Facebook
Joshua Molloy. Photo: Facebook

“We are in regular contact again and he seems okay, we know he has escaped physical damage but we are anxious to have him home for a while to see how he is psychologically,” he added.

Declan Molloy has promised his son a cold pint of beer when he gets home.

“I’m still waiting to buy him that pint, but it will happen, hopefully very soon,” he said.

“We know Joshua spent some time in Budapest, but we think he is in Germany now. We are in touch on social media and he sends us pictures every now and then. We know he’s okay.”

Declan said he does not know how long Joshua will stay in Ireland when he does get home, but he hopes it is long enough for him to get some rest before deciding what he wants to do next.

“He probably won’t stay long, a lot depends on if he can get work I suppose,” said Declan.

Joshua was a former soldier in the British army, and his parents were anxious to stress at the time of his arrest that he is not a freedom fighter, but rather a man with compassion.

"Joshua is a thoughtful and sensitive guy with the best of intentions, which meant picking up a weapon and standing with the Kurdish people," Declan explained.

Joshua was brought up in Britain until he was 13 and in Kildare after his family moved back to Ireland.

He has told his parents that while under arrest in Iraq he was held in a cage-like cell with around 50 other prisoners.

While serving with the Kurdish forces in Syria he was part of a force that was almost overwhelmed by IS fighters.

Their lives were saved when a US jet dropped a bomb on the Islamist militants.

Joshua joined the Kurds along with two British soldiers, Joe Akerman (37) and Jac Holmes (23), who were also released.

“Joshua felt very strongly about what was happening to the minority groups in the Middle East, especially the Yazidis, but the conflict had recently become a lot more complex with Turkey and Russia getting involved, and we think he thought he had played his part and was coming home at the time he was arrested,” Declan told the Herald.

“When he went out first it wasn't a foregone conclusion that he would pick up a weapon. We thought he might go out training people when he left here, but it became clear after a while that he was in at the sharp end," he added.

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