Wish you weren’t here! Married dad builder has just got back from mini break taking fire from ISIS
Wish you WEREN’T here! Married dad-Andrew Drury is a builder and WAR TOURIST who has just got back from a holiday being shot at by ISIS on the frontline in Iraq.
Company director Andy, 50, from Guildford, Surrey, was dodging sniper bullets just a week ago in one of the most dangerous places on the planet.
He is one of a brave or insane few who tour the world visiting war zones and disaster sites to see things most of us would be terrified to experience.
But Andy is by far the leader in his unique hobby with a holiday scrap book including pirate-infested Somalia, wartorn Afghanistan and rebel areas in Nigeria, Kosovo, Chechnya, Syria and Pakistan.
His most recent trip saw him spend three days in Northern Iraq with the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and then the Shia militia fighting ISIS – or Daesh – near the Iraqi towns of Kirkuk and Mosul.
Never more than a few miles from the frontline he visited areas that until very recently had seen atrocities such as massacres and beheadings under ISIS before they were liberated.
Andy, who had to hide for his life in a trench as bullets rained down from an enemy position, said his reason for going was to show the world what was happening.
Another was to visit an old friend known as ‘Sheikh Baba’ – a spiritual leader for the Yazidi people – who he met 10 years ago in Iraq and who incredibly was still alive despite brutal the persecution of his people by ISIS.
On day two in the field Andy and Shia fighters near Kirkuk were just 500 metres from ISIS when they came under fire, as this incredible video shows which he took on that day.
Describing his moment coming under attack by the terrorists Andy said: “The guy that I was with shot somebody, and we had a guy injured too who was shot. And I thought ‘this is real, isn’t it’.
“People don’t believe you when you say you’re a warzone tourist, you know, they think you’re probably not, but this was what it’s all about.
“There’d been a few skirmishes before we arrived, there was a few cracks of gunshot, but I wasn’t intending there to be a gunfight, it’s not something you plan to be part of.
“I was videoing because the guys I was with were going to blow this car up which was from Daesh, which is ISIS. The Shia and the Peshmerga call ISIS Daesh because it’s a derogatory term, they refuse to call them ISIS.
“But I was videoing and Daesh noticed our fighters near the car and that was it, we started taking fire and you could see the bullets hitting the wall.
“This was the closest to being killed I have ever been, any of these bullets could have hit us.
“At one stage I had my head up looking over the trench with the camera and they kept on telling me to put my head down. You think the camera is going to protect you, it’s a mental thing, and then you think f**king idiot.
“Then I put my camera up, and as you can see in the pictures I am leaning against a wall with the camera up. But you have to take the camera down because it reflects light and they’ll shoot at the camera.
“‘They’ve got snipers’ the Shia said to me, ‘remember they (Daesh) have got better weapons than we have’.
“A local news reporter gave me a flak jacket before we came under fire, but the velcro had gone on the jacket so it was no good for me anyway.
“The guys fighting were so pleased we were there, they had no kit, and they were saying the West are funding the Iraq army but the Shia and the Peshmerga were doing all the fighting and the Iraqi government were keeping all the money for themselves.”
Safe back on UK soil for now Andy said he didn’t have time for those who might say he’s risking his family or say he shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing.
Andy runs a building firm and lives with his wife Rachel and their two children Bobby and Ruby in Guildford.
He admits: “My wife isn’t speaking to me at the moment.
“I try to explain to people, the bigger question is, I work in a building trade and a lot of people I work with believe now every Muslim is a killer, or even every person with brown skin.
“And the reason they believe that is they see the coverage and the TV and the media. I would say the reason I go out there is because I’m just an ordinary guy, I’m not a journalist, and I just show that the majority of Muslims are just like us.
“The thing for me is to get the message back, because being a builder I get asked a million times ‘why do you do this?’.
“I don’t have a race issue, I don’t care if someone is whatever they are, they’re human to me. But some people if they see a Muslim or someone they think immediately they are the enemy.
“So I’m trying to bring it back home to people that you know what, you’ve got thousands of troops on the frontline, be it the Peshmerga, Shiite, Sunni, Hezbolah, Turkmen, anything, they are fighting for us.
“They are fighting for themselves and their land but they are fighting this horrible scourge, so don’t fear Muslims, there are brave ones fighting for you right now.
“That village at the gunfight, there was a young man on the frontline and he pointed to a house under the tree, and he was pointing the gun towards his own house that Daesh had taken.”
As well as local fighters Andy met some of the Western foreign fighters who had joined the fight against ISIS.
He said: “I don’t know what I thought I was when I was there in that firefight, bloody stupid maybe, some people call me a war tourist but adventure tourist would be more right.
“I said I was researching a documentary because you can’t just turn up and do these trips, you go through so many check points with the paperwork.
“The fighters there want the world to know that they are fighting for us, they want people to be proud of what they’re doing.
“I met a giant of American out there, he was a marine, and I interviewed him a bit about why he was there and he said he liked killing terrorists. He liked firing his gun too, I think he might have had a go at me as well.
“It was St Patrick’s Day and there are five Paddies there, but they had got drunk that night so they couldn’t meet me, they said they will meet me when I go out there next.”
Andy now hopes to return to the conflict zone and raise money for those affected by the fighting.