“I’m not here serving my country. I’m here serving Christians,” stated former U.S. soldier Brett Felton, who returned to Iraq to train Christians on how to defend themselves from ISIS.
While traveling through Iraq, a 60 Minutes crew discovered the 28-year-old American man in Bakufa, an abandoned Christian village north of Mosul. Dressed as a soldier, Felton was not there representing the U.S. Armed Forces. He was there to provide assistance, but not as part of any aid organization or official military group. He had come to Iraq on his own free will to fight ISIS.
“People say, “You’re crazy for doin’ this,’” Felton told John Newton, a producer for the CBS news program. “I think people are crazy for not doing their part, to be honest with you.”
According to CBS News, over the last year more than 125,000 of Iraq’s Christians have been forced to flee their homeland where they have lived for nearly 2,000 years because of ISIS violence and threats. The existence of these men, women and children have been directly threatened by the militant group. Forced to pay a protection tax to ISIS or leave, the Christians have been terrorized or even killed for not complying.
Correspondent Lara Logan spoke to members of the Christian community affected by the plight. Most enlightening was her conversation with Father Joseph Ibrahim, one of only seven monks left at the Monastery of St. Mathew. It is one of the oldest monasteries on the earth, founded in 363. Surviving the conquests of Persian and Ottoman empires and Mongol invaders, it now faces the threat of ISIS.
Lara Logan: What are you most afraid of?
Father Joseph Ibrahim: Unknown future.
Lara Logan: The unknown future?
Father Joseph Ibrahim: Yes.
Lara Logan: What do you think is going to happen?
Father Joseph Ibrahim: We don’t know exactly but we are expecting the worse.
While serving with the 10th Mountain Division, 2nd Battalion, 14th Regiment, Felton was deployed to Iraq in 2006. When he left the military in 2007, he knew he wanted to return to Iraq as soon as possible. He was able to slip back into the country from Lebanon a few months ago while there as a student.
While several Christians have been forced out of the area by ISIS, some have stayed and are attempting to form fledgling militias.
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