OTR Interviews

American training Iraqi army to fight ISIS speaks out

Matthew Van Dyke explains why he's traveled overseas to help in the fight against terror group and what it will take to win


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 23, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Matthew VanDyke says he is stepping in where the international community has failed. He joins us from Erbil, Iraq.

Nice to see you, Matthew. Tell me, what are you doing in Iraq?

MATTHEW VANDYKE, VETERAN & FOUNDER, SONS OF LIBERTY INTERNATIONAL: I formed a company called Sons of Liberty International. We provide security and military consulting and training to local forces that otherwise couldn't afford it. We provide it for free. We rely on the public's donations, which we desperately need at this time to continue working with Christians in Iraq.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is going on with the Christians there? I mean, obviously, we see the video of the Kurdish soldiers being marched around in cages in orange gear. Tell me what's going on with the Christians there.

VANDYKE: The Christian population mostly lives in the Nineveh plain region north of Mosul. A lot have been driven from their homes, tens of thousands. There is refugees, refugee camps. A lot have been displaced and left the country. The future of Christianity in Iraq is really uncertain. They face possible extinction from Iraq really. If they can't demonstrate that they can provide their own security, their people continue to leave, then Iraq's rich Christian heritage may be lost forever.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are there other Americans there training Iraqis? Other than our military, I mean, civilian?

VANDYKE: There are some. There are some, and Sons of Liberty International employees, former U.S. military veterans who serve as volunteers. We had five over here training the Christians. We just trained a whole battalion of hundreds of Christian fighters that are ready to take on ISIS.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any sense of fear yourself? I mean, I have been in Erbil. I was in Erbil right before -- right about the time that ISIS was becoming dominant in January of 2014, In that area. Do you have - - and I didn't have fear of ISIS there, although we were certainly being careful and being alert. But do you have fear?

VANDYKE: No, I don't have fear in Erbil. However, a lot of our work is done a covert training facility that was set up about 12 miles outside the front line, north of Mosul. We've ran that for about a month and then we moved to a Peshmerga vase to train the battalion. So we are not really based in Erbil, I just happen to be here today.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is the -- are you confident that training is -- that it's being successful, that people are learning it? Can these Peshmergas, for instance, fight this fight?

VANDYKE: Well, the ones that we are training are Syrian Christians. They are not Peshmerga. So we have the Nineveh Plain Protection Units. They are very capable, high morale, learn very quickly. They're eager to take the fight to ISIS. There are people who have lost a lot and they're fighting literally for the survival of the Syrian culture and Christianity in Iraq.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what is the status of the fight? How is it going?

VANDYKE: Right now, they just finished training a few days ago, so they're getting ready to deploy, but they also need funding. Right now, it's a privately funded force. They also need donations. The situation is quite desperate. Nobody over here fighting ISIS is really getting all the equipment and support they need from the international community.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me, what can we do to help? What do you want?

VANDYKE: You can go to sonsoflibertyinternational.com and make a donation so we can continue training. I would like to start bringing over Special Forces to be able to train them, Green Berets especially, and expand the program and get these guys trained up and ready to fight. The Nineveh Plain Protection Units also need support. They have organizations in the United States that collect donations to fund them.

VAN SUSTEREN: So your plans are what? Now you are in Erbil, what are you going to do next?

VANDYKE: Well, I'm having a Green Beret to help me do assessment of training and plan the next steps. After that, I will return to the United States and work on fundraising. We are really stalled right now, unable to really continue. I put about $12,000 of my own money in and I'm going broke doing. So we really need donations from the public to help Christians defend themselves and take the fight against ISIS.

VAN SUSTEREN: What are these Christians, collectively, if you can identify an opinion, what's their view of the United States and what we're doing or not doing?

VANDYKE: This is a very U.S.-friendly force. They want cooperation with the United States. I have taken N.P. leaders to the State Department here in Erbil. We have met at the consulate. We have a good relationship with the United States government. But we're not receiving any support from the government. Right now, this is all still privately supported. But they are a U.S.-friendly force and they do want America's cooperation and help.

VAN SUSTEREN: Matthew, thank you and good luck.