A married father-of-two is set to leave his home in Devon to fight against ISIS in Iraq because jihadis ‘need to be put down like rabid dogs’.
Steven Christopher Costa, 31, plans to head out to the Middle East next month to join the war against the terrorists, leaving his wife and young children behind.
Mr Costa, who spent six years in the Navy, will make the 4,000-mile trip after raising the cash to pay for flights.
He said: ‘When you have a rabid dog, you take it to the vet and put it down.
‘Lots of people have said it’s an admirable thing I am doing. I think it’s a necessary thing.’
When he arrives in Iraq, Mr Costa will join up with Kurdish fighters and other foreign ex-servicemen who have joined the battle against the barbaric Islamists.
The former seaman was recruited through the Foreign Fighters Against ISIS Facebook group, who help ex-military personnel make the journey to ISIS-controlled territory.
He has applied for a visa and plans to fly to northern Iraq via Jordan.
Mr Costa said he will take his own life if he is ever captured by the terrorists because he does not want his children to see him being executed in a Jihadi John-style video.
‘I will be saving a bullet or keeping a grenade strapped to my chest,’ he said.
‘If I get captured, I will pull the pin and take my life so there will be nothing for them to parade in any propaganda videos.
‘I am not going to lie, I am frightened. And anyone who says they are not is lying.’
Previous attempts by people to go out to fight ISIS have led to them being arrested for terror offences, but Mr Costa says this will not happen to him.
He said: ‘I’m going to join the Kurdish Peshmerga – not a terror group – who some European countries are funding and sending weapons to.
‘There are a few groups of former soldiers out there so I’ll be fine. I’m going as a volunteer, not a mercenary, so I don’t think I’ll be stopped. I’m not being paid.’
The former military man added: ‘Not seeing my kids is my biggest fear before death.
‘People are going to have to give their lives to stop ISIS and if one of them has to be me, then so be it.
‘I am not doing it for any monetary gain and I am not doing it for fame.
‘My wife was not impressed when I told her, but she understands.
‘The war that’s happening over there will happen over here. It’s just a matter of how long it will be before it comes here.’
Steven said he aims to fight against the extremists for three months before returning to his family.
‘If I have committed to something, I have to see it through,’ he said. Otherwise it would bug me for the rest of my life.’
Terror police warned Mr Costa against the trip but do not have the power to stop him leaving unless they suspect of him of carrying out an offence.
Detective Sergeant Martin Lakey from the South West Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit, said: ‘Whilst it is not illegal to travel to countries such as Syria and Iraq, if your activities amount to offences against UK terrorism legislation, you could be prosecuted on return to the UK.
‘Where there is a creditable likelihood of any British national travelling to high-risk area including Syria and Iraq, we will try to work with that person to ensure that they are fully aware of the risks, including highlighting the threat of kidnapping, and the effect of their travelling to fight could have on friends and family back in the UK.
‘Our security advice is always in line with guidance given out by the Home Office in relation to foreign travel advice to high-risk areas.’
Sir Edward Garnier QC, the former Solicitor General, warned last year that Britons who fight against terrorists in the Middle East would be interviewed by the police on their return.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We are in a terrible grey area, not least because we don’t know enough about what they are doing.
‘The United Kingdom is trying to defeat Isil. But freelancers are not acting on behalf of the United Kingdom. They may well be guilty of murder, or other sorts of crimes, or they might not be guilty of anything.
‘It goes to the general story who go abroad to fight in other people’s wars place themselves not only in physical danger, but in that legal limbo land where they could, if they get on the wrong side of this almost invisible line, into trouble when they get home.’