The Florida Man Turned Kurdish Militiaman Turned Anti-Trump Vigilante
A Florida man who had fought in a Kurdish militia against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and helped rescue a shooting victim in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) was arrested on Friday for allegedly threatening Inauguration Day violence against Trump supporters at Florida’s state capitol.
The case strangely touches on many corners of American life, from the U.S. military interventions in the Middle East to the Black Lives Matter protests that rocked American cities last summer. It is also part of a cycle of political revenge and government crackdowns that may continue long after the 2020 presidential election.
“Armed racist mobs have planted the Confederate flag in the nations Capitol [sic] while announcing their plans to storm every American state Capitol on or around inauguration day. We will fight back,” Tallahassee activist Daniel Alan Baker wrote under his own name in the description to a now-deleted Facebook event, which he promoted with physical fliers and a YouTube video. “We will circle the state Capitol and let them fight the cops and take the building. Then we will encircle them and trap them inside. We will drive them out of Tallahassee with every caliber available.”
The author of the alleged threat is a veteran of the war against ISIS—but he didn’t fight for the U.S. military.
Baker had joined the U.S. Army in 2006, but went AWOL in 2007 before his unit was set to deploy to Iraq, according to the FBI’s criminal complaint. He was then homeless over the next decade, taking occasional jobs as a security guard.
In 2017, Baker joined an anti-ISIS rebel force in Syria known as the YPG, which stands for “People’s Protection Units” in the Kurdish language, the FBI claimed.
The YPG, now part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), had taken in hundreds of foreign volunteers as it liberated northeastern Syria from ISIS. Baker served as a combat sniper, and even appeared in an Emmy Award-winning VICE News documentary about ISIS’s last stand in March 2019.
In the documentary, Baker leads part of a retreat under fire, helping save his fellow fighters and VIC
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