As the fight against ISIS winds down in Syria as American and allied forces have decimated the terror group in the past few years, many fighters are returning home—or trying to.
While hundreds of Westerners traveled to Syria to join ISIS, others pitched in to battle the terrorists. That included Michael Enright, a British-born actor who has spent time in the United States.
The 55-year-old said the video showing journalist James Foley being beheaded by a British jihadist in August 2014 was one of the driving forces for joining the fight against ISIS, in addition to his love for America.
“I always felt I owed America a debt because it had always been so good to me. I love Americans and I love America. I didn’t go (to Syria) to help the Kurds, I went there to fight for America,” the actor told Fox News. “I ended up falling in love with the Kurds, but I went there for America and because of what ISIS did to Americans.”
— Wladimir (@vvanwilgenburg) March 18, 2019
He said he was aware that his service, even if it was against ISIS, could jeopardize any return to the United States, but he still felt compelled to go.
Enright tried returning to the United States in November 2015 but said he was flagged during entry for overstaying his visa. He was detained for six weeks. Then, officials learned of his sojourn to Syria.
“At first they were going to do voluntary deportation, which meant I would have paid for my own flight back to the U.K. and I would have tried to work it out with the embassy,” he explained. “But when they found out I had been in Syria it wasn’t voluntary anymore and I was detained.”
Enright said he was eventually flown back to the United Kingdom, where American officials asked him to help them catch a criminal in return for being allowed to re-enter the United States. He returned to Syria in June 2016 to assist the Americans.
“I went searching for intelligence and interrogating ISIS prisoners and started passing along information to an American intelligence officer,” Enright said. “I passed on information about English-speaking ISIS members with their names and signatures—they were likely American, Canadian, or Australian.”
After completing his second tour there, Enright said he tried returning to the United States again in November 2017 but was not able to enter the country. He said he was led to believe that his efforts would earn him re-entry despite overstaying his original visa but that hasn’t happened yet.
He also fears returning to the United Kingdom, where he could be apprehended on terrorism charges. Officials there said, in general, they review the case of each person returning from the conflict in Syria or the Middle East.
The actor is currently living in a Central American county.
Enright said that despite his current predicament, he has no regrets.
“Both times I went I bought one-way tickets because I never expected that I would make it out,” Enright said. “I love America; I would do it again.”