Amir Taaki wanted to help build a Kurdish state and ended up fighting against the “Islamic State” in the open-source community Amir Taaki is a well-known figure.
The Briton with Iranian parents worked on bitkoin in the recent past and started the development of Dark Wallet, a virtual “wallet” in 2014, which should make transactions with the digital money as invisible as possible. His agitation also brought him a place on the list of the top 30 entrepreneurs in the tech field of the “Forbes” magazine. In the last two years, however, his life changed dramatically. The self-declared anarchist, who was then living in occupied buildings in Milan, Barcelona and London, wanted to devote himself to a political project in Syria. A project that would bring him to the front between Kurds and the terrorists of the “Islamic State” (IS), as Wired reports.
Trip to Rojava
At the end of 2014 Taaki from Rojava learned. The area is located in northern Syria on the border with Turkey. Here, about four million Kurds tried to build a progressive society, based on collective anarchism, equality and direct democracy. According to the developer, the project was the most important anarchist development since Catalan independence in the 1930s. When the “Islamic State” came to Kobane and thus into the heart of this Kurdish territory, Amir decided to leave for Rojava. He wanted to help with his technical expertise in building the local society. In 2015 he flew from Madrid to the Northirak, from where he was, together with other foreign volunteers, smuggled to Syria in a training camp of the Kurdish militia YPG.
From Programmer to Soldier
There, Taaki’s journey took an unexpected turning point for him. According to his description, he had tried to explain to the older commander that he had come to help the communities in Rojava with his skills as a developer. The latter, however, had simply assigned him a military unit despite his protest. After less than a day of training, he was put into a uniform, put a Kalashnikov in his hand and sent him into the war against the IS. In a larger battle he was never involved in his time at the front. Most of the battles had been that US air forces were throwing bombs at positions of the terrorist organization whose fighters were retreating, whereupon the YPG troops advanced to hold the territory. IS soldiers he usually only perceived as threatening black spots on far distant hills.
The few direct battles he had experienced were surprises by the jihadists with machine guns. A soldier of his unit died in such a bullet. In addition, he was regularly confronted with the death of comrades. A young Iranian, with whom he had become a friend, had fled in the wrong direction in a fight and slowly bleed to his gunshots, while his fellow soldiers could only watch helplessly. Although he himself was involved in only three controversies, he saw a dozen people dying – an experience that left traces in his psyche.
The accidental encounter with an officer, which he had met at the training camp, led the developer away from the front. He made sure that he was released from military service and taken to the core of Rojava. There he began to learn Kurdish, and educated residents dealing with open source software and the Internet. To this end, he wrote an ideological curriculum for foreign newcomers, helped build a fertilizer factory and a revolutionary women’s magazine. A companion, the Spanish biologist Pablo Prieto, recalls that Taaki had developed into a very valued member of the Rojava community and left a lasting impression. The political leadership of the Kurdish region eventually bound him into the development of the technology curriculum for the school system under construction, and brought him as the only foreigner to a regional economic conference.
Return In the spring of 2016, the anarchist finally decided to return to London. He wanted to continue his work on Dark Wallet to improve the financial situation of Rojava. The “dark wallet” should allow the sanctions of the EU and the US to bypass the flow of money to Syria. Then he wanted to return to Nordsyria. But this project also did not go according to plan. A few minutes after his landing in London in May 2016, he was taken into custody by the police, his laptop and his cell phones confiscated, and he was taken to his own terrorism investigation center. There followed interrogations about the IS, the PKK – the “Kurdische Arbeiterpartei” is classified by the EU as a terrorist organization and is to be linked to the YPG -, its involvement in the Bitcoin project and also about its close relationship with the inventor The first weapon from the 3D printer, Cody Wilson. In the visa of the authorities It followed Hausarrest in the apartment of his mother. To this day, the authorities investigate his case.
Taaki has still not kept his passport and, for fear of being arrested, refuses to continue his work on Dark Wallet or other software projects. The responsible authorities did not provide information on ongoing investigations against Wired and only referred to the existing legal situation. Taakis lawyers suspect that his software projects could be the reason for the comprehensive special investigations, especially since other returnees who were in the service of the YPG were not accused. In any case, they would defend themselves against every charge. The developer himself does not regret his journey: “It would have been worse to live hypocrites – to call myself an anarchist revolutionary and then not to participate in a real revolution.”
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