Reading man at centre of anti-IS recruitment drive

Matt Bartlett from Reading
Image caption Matt Bartlett from Reading set up the Foreign Fighters Against ISIS Facegroup group

A man at the centre of a recruitment drive for foreign volunteers to fight against jihadist militants in Iraq said he has vetted hundreds of people.

Matt Bartlett from Reading vets potential volunteers wanting to join Kurdish group Peshmerga via a Facebook group Foreign Fighters Against ISIS.

He has helped up to 20 volunteers head to the Iraqi region of Kurdistan to fight the Islamic State extremists.

He said: "I see ISIS as a major threat which is on our doorstep."

'In our faces'

Mr Bartlett told the BBC's Newsnight programme on Thursday night that his group has direct links with the official operation of the Kurdish Peshmerga Foreigner Recruitment, Assessment, Management, & Extraction (FRAME) programme.

He said: "We have a very tight vetting framework in place, to be considered to be passed on to the next level.

Image copyright Kurdish Peshmerga FRAME
Image caption Kurdish group Peshmerga expressed gratitude to Matt Bartlett and his colleagues

"We want to have your army discharge number, we want to be able to vet you to a high level before we pass you across to the Peshmerga."

The Kurdish group showed their gratitude to Mr Bartlett by posting a photo with a thank you message.

Mr Bartlett said he had spent a lot of time considering going out there himself as a civilian volunteer and was in discussions with a number of people about doing so.

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Media captionMatt Bartlett runs his Facebook group Foreign Fighters Against ISIS from his home in Reading

He works as a business development manager and has no military background, but said he had joined in with the anti-IS fight because "it's not a middle Eastern threat it's a global threat".

He said: "It's in our faces everyday and I don't think anyone really recognises what a threat it is."

Asked if he had been contacted by the authorities over his activities, Mr Bartlett said: "I had a little knock at the door at one point, a couple of guys in suits who refused to show ID. They said 'we know what your doing on Facebook' that was pretty much it.

"I think everyone who's been there, and I know several people who've been there and come back, they've all been stopped at customs on the way and had the chat from the anti-terrorism squad."

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