“Havrem,” whose real name is Alex, presents himself as an ideological warrior who ran away from home at the age of 16 to join the PKK and fight for Kurdish freedom. He talks about scaling the treacherous mountains of Turkey as a PKK fighter and of ruthless battles fought against ISIS in Northern Syria, but Alex’s actions reveal a track record of lies, treachery, and betrayal to the Kurdish cause. The truth is that Alex is a fraud cashing in on the Kurdish war against ISIS for cold hard cash.

When SOFREP met with Alex in November of 2014, he claimed to be a general in the YPG, the Kurdish militia in northern Syria, who had been put in charge of the city of Rabia. Alex likes to talk about how he is married to the PKK/YPG cause, often delving deeply into subjects such as socialism, feminism, and the political theory of the organization’s spiritual father, Abdullah Ocalan. He loved animals and played with dogs wherever we found them and would give candy to children. When SOFREP visited him in his apartment in Til Kocher, he had a number of potted plants and even a pet snake which he said he inherited from a dead YPG fighter. “He was such a humanitarian,” Alex lamented.

But when shown a picture of Alex, an American volunteer soldier recently out of Syria stated, “That dude is bad ju-ju. I got the feeling he was playing both sides.”

Far from being a general, he was really just an interpreter for the foreign volunteers who came from the West, according to the YPG fighters SOFREP spoke to. Through a combination of hustling and intentionally mis-translating the words of the foreign fighters, he was able to get himself placed in charge of the foreigners—perhaps 20 or so men.

Although Alex was running several different scams, perhaps the foremost of them was that he was confiscating passports, cell phones, and cash from the foreign volunteers who showed up from America, Germany, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. He told them that he needed to hold onto the passports because, if they were killed, ISIS would then be able to use them for their own purposes.

As such, he was holding many of the foreigners in Syria under duress. When they asked to leave, he told several of them that he would just dump them on the border without their passports. When other foreign volunteers pushed the issue, Alex would make vague references to how easy it is for someone to just disappear in Syria.

The Kurdish independence and freedom movement has taken a back seat to Alex’s agenda of personal enrichment and petty power plays. Many of the volunteers traveled to Syria to make a genuine effort to help the Kurds but when another American volunteer fighter was proposing the integration of an all-foreigner unit in the YPG, Alex intentionally mis-translated and lied to the YPG about what was going on to have this American transferred out to a remote base without Internet access or cell phone reception.

It was all about who gets what, and Alex coveted the unit funding that the YPG issued to the foreigners. One YPG fighter told SOFREP, “He is given a stipend to provide for the Western volunteers, but he has yet to distribute or provide for those not in his little immediate group, and then does not provide unless it helps him or you are doing him favors.”