Joshua Washburn (right) is a native of Springfield, Mass. who went to Syria earlier this year to fight ISIS.

Credit: The Boston Globe

Was The Globe's Profile Of A Local 'Freedom Fighter' Irresponsible?

September 30, 2015

According to a recent piece in the Boston Globe, local Springfield man Joshua Washburn found his calling by traveling to Syria and taking up arms against the group that calls itself the Islamic State. But Juliette Kayyem, homeland security expert and host of the "Security Mom" podcast, says Washburn's actions have serious implications for American foreign policy and should be examined more critically.

"We do not allow U.S. citizens—in fact, there are laws against U.S. citizens—to be a militia of one," Kayyem said. "It might be inconsistent with our foreign policy."

Kayyem pointed toward the complications that could arise if Washburn were captured while overseas. Would American troops be called on to rescue him, or would there be pressure on the U.S. government to negotiate for his release? 

"We do not have a foreign policy determined by individuals who are willing to fight," she said. "Let's assume he gets caught. Then there's a whole thing: why don't we save him?"

Then there's the question of the real identity of the group he decided to join, a Kurdish-aligned group of militants known as the YPG. 

"We don't know who the good guys are in Syria anymore. He finds a group, he claims they're anti-ISIS. Okay, they claim that. We don't know who they're aligned with. Are they getting help from Assad? We have no idea who this group is," Kayyem said.

"To have any certainty that Washburn is on the right side...people who are studying this can't even define the right or wrong side," she continued. 

To hear more from homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.i

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