I Asked The Foreign Office, The Ministry Of Defence, and The Home Office If Linda COULD Destroy ISIS

It all started in January 2014. A middle-aged American, by the name of Linda Glocke, made a strong commitment to defeat ISIS in an online comment. So strong, in fact, that the internet vowed to follow Linda on her one woman crusade against the caliphate.

The comment — which was only four words long — was posted in response to an online article, originally published by KABC-TV, about the execution of two Japanese hostages. It simply read: “I will destroy ISIS.” The emotionally-charged sentiment behind the post was celebrated globally. Here was an ostensibly normal woman, with an exceptionally normal profile picture, acting like she’d drop the kids at soccer practice then roll up on Syria like Chris Kyle in a Chrysler minivan.

It wasn’t long before Linda was re-posted, tweeted, and photoshopped into our hearts and minds.

The poetic simplicity of her statement generated a great deal of debate on the internet. How was Linda going to ‘destroy’ ISIS? Would she use rifles? Would she use drones? Or would she just bore them to death with interminable anecdotes about her children? No one knew. We still don’t.

The abhorrent terrorist attack in Paris last month brought Linda back into the limelight, it also got me thinking: The prospect of a middle-aged woman making her way to ISIS-held territory, acquiring weapons, then laying waste to jihadis is certainly unlikely. But is it impossible?

What would happen if Linda, or at least a woman like Linda, actually tried to destroy ISIS? Wanting to know, I contacted some organisations who might be able to give me an answer.

The Ministry of Defence

Could a woman with no military experience do anything to help defeat ISIS?

MoD spokesperson: “I don’t think that an untrained lady could help the armed forces. Maybe she could speak to the Home Office to see if it’s possible she could do something to counter extremism. Or if she wanted to, I don’t know, do something to add to the diplomatic process she could possibly speak to the Foreign Office. But I don’t think that there is anything that an everyday member of the public could do to help the armed forces in Syria.”

How difficult would it be for an average middle-aged woman to go over to Syria and acquire the weapons and intelligence needed to make an attempt to destroy ISIS?

“Absolutely no idea. Are you talking about her travelling to Syria and fighting with the Moderate Opposition? That would be a Foreign Office matter.”

Following the MoD’s advice, I gave the Foreign Office press team a call.

Foreign Office

Could a middle-aged woman travel to Syria to fight ISIS?

Foreign Office spokesperson: ‘‘The UK has advised for some time against all travel to Syria, where all UK consular services are suspended. As we do not have any representation in Syria, it is extremely difficult to get any information about British nationals and our options for supporting them there are extremely limited.”

Unsurprisingly, if Linda did manage to become a soccer mom mercenary, she wouldn’t get much support from the government. If that’s discouraged any budding Lindas out there, then maybe there are other ways to destroy ISIS. I hit up the Home Office.

The Home Office

Say there was a woman called Linda who wanted to travel abroad to fight ISIS, would you be able to advise her?

Home Office spokesperson: “We wouldn’t usually comment on the actions of one individual, but I can give you some guidance which is the advice we have given to people before: We do not advise anyone to go to Syria or parts of Iraq because if they did they would be putting themselves at considerable risk. If people want to really help the best thing they can do is to donate to registered charities that are working on relief operations in those areas.

“The other problem is that if someone did go, they might fall foul of criminal or terror laws. They could find themselves in a whole heap of trouble. It’s best just to work with the registered charities.”

If Linda was British and she did go over to the Middle East to take up arms, could she be prosecuted under our law?

“Potentially, yes. That would be a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, we’re not labelling anything. But if you did that you could be potentially operating outside the law.”

So even if Linda returned to friendly shores having dismantled the caliphate, she could still be prosecuted. Or could she?

Crown Prosecution Service

Would it be illegal for a normal woman to travel abroad to fight ISIS?

CPS spokesperson: “We are unable to comment on hypothetical cases; all cases are considered on their own merits. However, for guidance, we have prosecuted people under s5 of the Terrorism Act 2003 for similar offences.”

§

In all honesty, Linda’s chances of destroying ISIS look slim. Seems like middle-aged women just aren’t suited to foreign warfare. But if Linda did go for it she wouldn’t be the first. A 2015 Channel Four documentary, Frontline Fighting: The Brits Battling ISIS, followed ordinary people that made the journey to Syria to join the Kurdish YPG freedom fighters in their battle against the religious fanatics. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

All attempts to contact Linda about the issues raised in this article proved futile due to the myriad of fake online profiles pertaining to be her. We’re not even sure where she is now. She could be on the frontline in Aleppo, for all we know.

Linda, if you’re reading this, please click here to tweet me.

I’m a London-based writer and this is my blog. You can read my VICE articles here: https://www.vice.com/en/contributor/simon-doherty

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