Two grassroots efforts to take on the Islamic State group — both named "Veterans Against ISIS" — share a common enemy, but they may be battling each other first.

ID=70168614One group, whose mission is to defend the United States from Islamic State attacks, has applied for a trademark and is considering legal action against the second, which is recruiting veterans to fight Islamic State in Iraq.

"We're not saying go or don't go; we just don't want you using our name when what you're doing doesn't represent what we're about," said the first group's co-founder Bob Maher, an Army veteran.

Maher's Veterans Against ISIS group was formed last September to quietly monitor any IS activity within the U.S. and share information between veterans.

It currently has almost 1,100 members who actively coordinate information about the Islamic State group via a closed Facebook group.

ID=70168472"We are here in case of a domestic threat; we're not a recruiting agency sending able bodies to Iraq," said the group's other co-founder Andrew Brian, another Army vet.

"We're not looking for trouble, but if ISIS starts something here, we're pledged to do anything we can to stop it," Brian said.

Sean Rowe, however, is itching to immediately take the fight to the Islamic State.

Two weeks ago, inspired by online stories of other veterans fighting IS abroad, Rowe, who also served in the Army, formed a group with the same name to recruit fellow veterans to travel to Iraq and directly engage the enemy.

"I founded Veterans Against ISIS because I'm really dissatisfied with where things are politically, and these people [fighting IS] need our help," Rowe told Army Times.

Threat of legal action

Rowe does not see any issue with using the same name as Maher and Brian's group.

"We're all Veterans Against ISIS, so it shouldn't be a problem," Rowe said.

Maher and Brian disagree.

Frustrated with the attention Rowe's recruiting activities have brought them, on Monday they filed a trademark application to protect their name, and intend to sue Rowe should he continue using their name, according to Brian.

ID=70168752Undeterred, Rowe has set up a GoFundMe site to raise funds for his undertaking, which to date has received $265 out of a requested $30,000.

"We're not mercenaries and not doing it for money," Rowe said.

Maher and Brian, however, have petitioned GoFundMe to remove the site per their filed trademark application of the name.

GoFundMe is currently investigating the issue.

Meanwhile, Rowe intends to continue the charge to Iraq, and aims to embed with the Peshmerga, the military forces of semi-autonomous Kurdistan fighting IS in northern Iraq.

Citing operational security concerns, though, Rowe is hesitant to disclose any specifics of his plan.

"I've got dozens of requests to join up, and we're going very, very soon," Rowe said.

According to Rowe, his group now numbers over two dozen, and will stage to Iraq in small teams.

Rowe has stopped accepting volunteers, but is still soliciting funding to cover travel expenses, which according to Rowe "is the most expensive part of doing this."

"Once we're over there, we won't have any costs," Rowe said. "We will fall under the Peshmerga, who will provide basic necessities like body armor, weapons, food and shelter."

The original Veterans Against ISIS group is non-plussed, however.

For them, the first duty of veterans is to be prepared to defend the United States at home, and doesn't condone anyone going overseas to fight ISIS.

"You want to go over there with no plan, no contacts? I wouldn't advise anyone to do that; it's irresponsible," Maher said.

Maher, a former MP, said he was wounded while serving with the 101st Airborne Division during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and medically retired from the Army in 2005.

"Anyone who's been in combat over there and wants to go back needs to have their head examined," Maher said.

Rowe deployed with the Army Reserve to Iraq as a plumber from 2004 to 2005, according to Army personnel information. In 2006, he joined active duty and reclassified as a network switching systems operator, serving until 2010 when he left service as a specialist, according to Army officials.

According to Rowe, he "voluntarily separated."

"I was just sick of the lifestyle, I didn't agree politically with a lot of things, and I do consider myself an activist so this really wasn't a fit," Rowe told Army Times.

Rowe became outraged by the atrocities committed by the Islamic State group.

Since last August, the U.S. and coalition forces have conducted 2,780 airstrikes against ISIS, according to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Congress is currently considering the Obama administration's proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force which would expand operations to potentially include U.S. "boots on ground" in the near term.

Yet for Rowe, not enough is being done.

"It's obvious political games are being played," Rowe said. "What am I really doing right now? What's going on over there is far more important and serious."

Staff writers Oriana Pawlyk and Michelle Tan contributed to this report.

In Other News
Load More