Robin Hood Complex – Why Men Volunteer To Fight The Islamic State

first published on November 28, 2017 by

Emile Ghessen, former Royal Marine Commando, funded and filmed a documentary about western volunteers fighting the Islamic State called Robin Hood Complex.

Robin Hood complex is an independently funded and filmed documentary that explores why men from around the world decided to volunteer and fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Emile Ghessen, the former Royal Marine Commando who created the film, put together a short article for us below. Here is the trailer for his film, which will be released in two theaters in London next month. The film itself will be available to rent online at this >>>LINK<<< on December 18, 2017.

The following was written by Emile Ghessen. You can find him on Facebook at this >>>LINK<<<

For the last three years I have been travelling to the Middle East following western volunteers who pick up arms to fight Islamic State. As a former Royal Marines Commando, and my father being Syrian, I was interested in why these men risk their lives to fight someone else’s war. I wasn’t a journalist or a documentary film maker, but decided to buy a $900 camera off E-bay, book a flight to Northern Iraq, and take a taxi to the front-line alone and unarmed.

Robin Hood 1

These volunteers all have different reasons for travelling to Iraq and Syria to fight the worlds most feared terrorist group, ISIS. I wanted this documentary, Robin Hood Complex, to focus on these men and their motives for fighting. Everyone knows Robin Hood as the mythical character that stole from the rich to give to the poor. His actions were noble, but he is still doing wrong by stealing. The same could be said with these volunteers, there is no doubt their actions are noble, but are their actions justified? This is what the documentary explores.

Around 300 men and women have travelled to the region to fight. Mainly American, British and Europeans. Some who have previous military experience, but many with none. Robin Hood Complex focuses on a handful of volunteers and their reasons for leaving the comforts of home to fight in a hot dusty far away land.

One of the volunteers featured in the documentary is a short, bald headed volunteer from Las Vegas who is nicked named Doc. Doc has had a colourful life and was in the region to help the Kurds hold back ISIS. Men like Doc are respected by the Kurds for coming as a volunteer while countries like America and Britain have turned a blind eye to the spread of the terror group. Doc explained that if it wasn’t for volunteers coming to help train the Peshmerga and YPG, their casualty rate would be a lot higher. He understands that no one man can make a difference in this war, but by volunteering, he stands shoulder to shoulder with the Kurdish forces against evil on behalf of humanity.

Robin Hood 2

My trips to the region to make Robin Hood Complex have given me a first-hand insight into these men’s lives. Being a self-funded, self-produced documentary maker has been challenging at times. Having little money to produce this documentary, I’ve had to hitchhike to the frontline, sleep wherever I can with my sleeping bag and blag my way through checkpoints. It’s been great, but dangerous at times. Being a former Royal Marine has helped me on my journey from Marine to filmmaker. I’m glad that Robin Hood Complex is finally ready to share with the world.

Edmund Burke’s quote sums up well the feeling among the volunteers: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”