Reporting Rochelle Ritchie
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore native Matthew VanDyke speaks to WJZ about his plan to return to the front lines. It may be a different country but he says the mission is still the same.
Rochelle Ritchie has more from the filmmaker turned freedom fighter.
VanDyke says Syria will be much like the war zone he experienced in Libya, if not worse. His mission will be to document behind-the-scenes footage of the rebels who are fighting.
It’s a war nobody signs up for and a militia all on its own. In the middle of it is an American, Matthew VanDyke from Baltimore.
Last year, VanDyke left the United States and went to Libya to fight alongside what many called rebels. VanDyke considers them his friends.
And now VanDyke tells WJZ he’s joining his Middle Eastern friends again, this time in Syria.
“I saw the effects of our victory in Libya,” he said. “I want the same thing for Syrians.”
Speaking to WJZ by phone from his home in Fenwick Island, VanDyke says this mission will be less fighting and more filming to show the more human side of the rebels.
“Get sort of a behind-the-scenes of what they are about and who they are. Humanize them for the public and show a good image of them,” he said.
VanDyke knows the dangers he faces. He spent six months in solitary confinement after being captured by Moammar Gadhafi’s army in Libya. He suffered severe psychological damage.
“What I went through was nothing compared to the suffering of Libyans. And seeing them happy, that’s what did it for me,” he said.
Syrian rebels have fought for weeks to overthrow the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad.
VanDyke is hoping the victory in Libya is repeated in Syria.
“I want everyone on this planet have the best life they can. And they can’t do it living under these regimes,” he said.
VanDyke is still raising money for the journey to Syria and plans to be in Syria for at least four weeks.
VanDyke is a Georgetown University graduate who received his masters in Middle Eastern Studies. He plans to post his experiences online.