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The white van man taking on ISIS: Grandfather, 53, sold his car, motorbikes and boat to fight jihadis in Iraq

OWoN: As the world has lost interest in the poor Iraqis, a man cares.


Grandfather-of-two Jim Atherton, 53, left his wife and three children at their family home in Tyne and Wear to fly out to Iraq and join a voluntary Christian militia organisation called Dwekh Nawsha set up to fight ISIS


The white van man taking on ISIS: Grandfather, 53, sold his car, motorbikes and boat to fight jihadis in Iraq

  • Jim Atherton, 53, left his family home in Tyne and Wear to fight ISIS in Iraq
  • Grandfather-of-two sold his car, two motorbikes and a boat to fund his trip
  • He raised £18,000 to arm himself with weapons, ammunition and clothing
  • He wants to make his grandchildren proud and is willing to die fighting ISIS

Mail Online
By Emma Glanfield
10 August 2015

A 53-year-old grandfather who sold his car, motorbikes and boat to fly out to Iraq and fight jihadists has admitted he is 'prepared to die fighting ISIS'.

Jim Atherton left his wife and three children at their family home in Tyne and Wear to fly out to the Middle East and join a voluntary Christian militia organisation set up to fight Islamic State.

Despite having no military training and formerly working as a van driver for 20 years, the grandfather-of-two now patrols the frontline armed with a machine gun, grenades and explosives.

He raised £18,000 to fund his trip to fight ISIS and sold his Sierra Cosworth car, two motorbikes and a boat to help pay for his £3,000 worth of kit which includes a Glock pistol, an AK-47 machine gun and a shotgun.

He now spends his days dressed in full combat gear and is part of a militia group called Dwekh Nawsha, which means The Sacrificers, that is made up of those from Europe, the U.S and Australia who also wish to fight ISIS.

The son of a former soldier, Mr Atherton said he felt compelled to go out and fight ISIS militants after his brother Sean died while fighting in Iraq in 2006.

He told The Sun: 'It's something I felt I had to do. I wanted my grandkids to know what I'm really about.

'Watching what IS are doing just beats me up. Nobody seemed to be doing anything about it, so I decided that I would.

'I'm a middle-aged white van man. I thought if I'm going to do anything with myself it's going to be now.'

Mr Atherton decided to leave Britain to join the fight against jihad in April and spent the 12 months prior saving everything he could and selling off his cars and bikes.

It came despite the fact he suffered a heart attack in 2007, and had no previous military training.


Mr Atherton raised £18,000 to fund his trip to fight ISIS and sold his car, two motorbikes and a boat to help pay for his £3,000 worth of kit which includes a Glock pistol, an AK-47, a shotgun and a Kalashnikov machine gun


The son of a former soldier, Mr Atherton said he felt compelled to go out and fight ISIS militants after his brother Sean died while fighting in Iraq in 2006. He is pictured while working on patrol near Dohuk in Iraq





The father-of-three, who also has four rescued dachshunds, initially flew from Newcastle to Amsterdam, before attempting to cross into Turkey.

From there, he caught another flight to Erbil in Iraq and is now based at the Dwekh Nawsha's headquarters in Dohuk, situated just north of Mosul.

Having been based on the frontline for just over three months now, Mr Atherton claims he has seen combat four times since his arrival.

The voluntary group, which is currently protecting the local Christian population in Iraqi villages such as al-Qosh, operates on a rotation system with half of the group on leave at all times.

It means he spends a lot of his downtime reading or updating friends and family members about his whereabouts on Facebook.

The father-of-three believes he's found
his reason in life and claims he has
'never felt so proud of myself'
In one lengthy post, from May, he told how he views himself as a 'modern crusader' and a 'freedom fighter'.

He also believes he's found his reason in life, bravely telling how he has 'never stood so tall and felt so proud of myself.'

Speaking of his time in Iraq so far, he wrote on Facebook: 'People notice me for who I am and the past doesn't matter as long as you ask the Lord for his forgiveness. Well I did that and here I am now.

'I'm not a trained soldier, wasn't even fit enough to run to the shops, but I knew by coming here I could be of some use to somebody.

'I'm not anti-Islam, I'm not a violent person and I'm deffo (sic) not a killer. Be what you want to be means freedom to me and I'm willing to fight that fight for those who can't.

'Modern day crusader is how I look at myself and I'm being honest that at this time of my life I've never stood so tall and felt so proud of myself, I've done it and I done it my way.

'And if my time comes to an end here and Sean calls me to sit with him then know I'm happy and done my small part to help rid the world of the blackness and that I've now many many many brothers.'

In a separate interview, with Russian news site Gazette.Ru, Mr Atherton told how he had 'never been so sure' that he was doing the right thing.

He said: '[My family] are worried for me and try to be aware of what's going on with me. I have two daughters and a son, I also know that my two grandchildren very miss me. But I wish my family proud of me. I am very proud that I've been fighting here.'

Mr Atherton recently returned to the UK for a two-week break, but despite insistence from Special Branch officers and his family to remain in Britain, he is adamant he will keep fighting ISIS until the extremist group is defeated.


Jim Atherton left his wife and three children at their family home in Washinton, Tyne and Wear (pictured) join a voluntary Christian militia organisation set up to fight Islamic State

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