Saturday 21 April 2018

'Joshua thought he had played his part and was coming home' - parents of Irishman arrested in Iraq

Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The parents of the Irishman arrested in Iraq after fighting Isis in Syria say he travelled to the Middle East to help after seeing news broadcasts.

Joshua Molloy (24) from the village of Ballylinan, Co Laois, travelled to the Middle East region in April 2015 to fight against Isil with forces allied to the Kurds.

He was arrested after allegedly crossing the border from Syria to Iraq illegally.

Speaking from their home in the small village near Athy on the Laois border with Kildare, Declan and Ann Marie Molloy said their son is not a soldier or a freedom fighter, but a man with compassion and an interest in world affairs.

Joshua Molloy
Joshua Molloy
Joshua Molloy: Laois man travelled to region just a year ago

“Anything that he ever suggested he wanted to do was positive, be it as a journalist, or with an NGO, or a charity or humanitarian group,” Declan said.

“Joshua joined the British Army for four years when he left school because he wanted to see the world and he wanted to be involved in it. His regiment was trained to go to Afghanistan but that didn’t happen in the end.”

Joshua Molloy
Joshua Molloy

“He joined the British Army and not the Irish Army because he thought he would see more of the world and get more involved.”

Declan said they were last in touch with Joshua last Sunday week, and that he was actually on his way home to Ireland when he was arrested.

“There was a few of them on the border coming from Syria into Iraq and he had told us to keep in touch with the Irish consulate because there was a risk they would be picked up when they crossed,” he explained.

“Then last Wednesday he crossed the border and we got word from a guy out there named Mark Campbell who works with one of the charities that Joshua and two others had been arrested by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).”

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

“We feel proud on one hand because he has a drive to help people, but we are scared on the other hand. We hope he is being treated okay,” he added.

“We are in touch with the British consulate because they seem to be more informed about what is happening and they say they are sending some people to the jail he is in, but he has an Irish passport and we would like to see the Irish consulate push that point because it could help Joshua,” Declan explained.

“It is of some comfort that he has been arrested by a government rather than being held by a militant group.

“Joshua is a thoughtful and sensitive guy with the best of intentions,” he said.

Declan and Ann Marie said Joshua was born in the UK and spent the first 13 years of his life there before they moved back to Ireland. Declan is originally from Dublin but the family, including Joshua’s younger sister, settled in Laois.

“He was always a reader, reading well beyond his years, and liked to know what was going on in the world, and he was into the computers and music, just like any other lad his age,” said Declan.

Over the past 18 months, hundreds of Westerners have joined Kurdish, Assyrian and other military units in the fight against Isis.

The KRG had closed the Iraq-Syria border.

According to the 'Sunday Times', the Joshua and his friends had been fighting with a Syriac Christian group, the MFS, which is allied to the Kurdish YPG in the fight against Isil.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is working with British counterparts on the case.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan is being kept informed on efforts to secure the release of Joshua.

Irish diplomats are understood to have decided it would be best if the British Foreign Office worked for the release of all three men.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office told they were engaging with officials on the ground in Iraq to secure the release of the men. Mr Flanagan will keep a watching brief on those attempts.

"We are aware of the case and we stand ready to provide consular assistance. Minister Flanagan is being kept fully informed," a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said.

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