If the Islamic State thought coalition airstrikes were putting a damper on their quest to gain territory in Iraq and Syria, they’ve got another thing coming: Dutch biker gangs.
Dutch public prosecutor spokesman Wim de Bruin told AFP Tuesday that members of No Surrender, a prominent Dutch motorcycle gang, are allowed to fight alongside Kurds battling the Islamic State so long as they aren’t involved in any attacks on the Netherlands.
The legality of Dutch bikers fighting the Islamic State came into question last week, when photos of a tattooed gang member dressed in military getup and holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle were posted on Twitter.
— The Independent (@Independent) October 15, 2014
Klaas Otto, leader of the gang, later told state TV broadcaster NOS that three members of the gang had traveled to Mosul to join Kurdish fighters.
"Joining a foreign armed force was previously punishable; now it’s no longer forbidden," de Bruin told AFP. "You just can’t join a fight against the Netherlands."
Dutch law prohibits citizens from joining terrorist organizations, including ISIS. But when it comes to an individual choosing to fight against the Islamist group wreaking havoc across the Middle East, Dutch law doesn’t stop citizens from traveling to the region.
Still, there’s an element of hairsplitting at play. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, better known by the acronym PKK, is currently waging war against ISIS — and is also considered a terrorist group by a slew of Western governments, including the Netherlands.
"[T]his is also happening a long way away, and so it’ll be very difficult to prove," de Bruin said.
No word on whether No Surrender will be shipping their bikes all that way.