A former lawmaker candidate from the opposition CNRP announced Tuesday that he is now leading a platoon of amateur soldiers and will next week ask the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh to deploy the group in the war against the Islamic State group.
The U.S. has for four months been waging an aerial campaign against the terrorist group, which is also known as ISIS and has taken control of large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Soung Sophorn, 28, a longtime opposition youth leader who stood as the CNRP’s lawmaker candidate in Pailin province in last year’s national election, said he is now at the head of a group of 50 youth who wish to join the war in the Middle East.
“We are Cambodian youth and we want to show our will and concern on international issues,” he said.
“The reason we want to join with the U.S. to fight against the jihadist ISIS is because the extremist jihad group will start World War III and destroy people’s health by creating an Ebola biological weapon.”
The amateur soldiers will deliver a petition to the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday asking to join the fight, Mr. Sophorn said. The next day they will deliver a letter to the U.N. in support of global action against I.S.
On Thursday, they will notify the Cambodian government of their plan to fight alongside the U.S., which has, in fact, not committed any ground troops to fight I.S.
Mr. Sophorn said he hoped the U.S. would accept his team’s offer so that he could later use his experience in the Middle East to wage war against Vietnam, which he accuses of taking Cambodian land.
“I’m not racist against the Vietnamese but the Vietnamese are violating Cambodian land at Koh Tral,” Mr. Sophorn said, using the Khmer language term for the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc.
“We want to show that we will fight back against those extremist Vietnamese,” he said.
One of Mr. Sophorn’s amateur soldiers, Hang Sisovat, 32, said he was under the impression the U.N. was involved in the fight against I.S. and was glad to help out.
“I’ve never been trained in military exercises but I want to show the heart of the Khmer youth and our will to fight ISIS,” Mr. Sisovat said.
“The U.N. used to help Cambodia in 1993 so the Khmer have to help the U.N. fight against ISIS.”
Defense Ministry spokesman General Chhum Socheat declined to comment on the activists’ plans and said only that the government supported the fight against terrorist groups.
“I won’t comment on the youth, but the government’s stance is against international terrorism,” he said.