Ashley Dyball's return from Syria is not as simple as good vs. evil.

In May this year Ashley Dyball – also known as Mitchell Scott – left his home in Brisbane to fight with the Kurdish militia group (YPG) against ISIS (or DAESH) in northern Syria.

Last week Dyball, 23, was detained in Germany while on a break from combat. He was deported from Germany and arrived in Melbourne on Sunday night to what media called a “hero’s welcome”.

His parents Julia and Scott Dyball made the trip to Melbourne to welcome their son when he first touched down on Australian soil.

Supporters held placards: Ashley Dyball brave hero for all humanity and Thank you Ashley for trying to make the world a better place. The scene was reminiscent of a teen returning from a gap year.

Image: Facebook/No Jail For Ashley Dyball.

Dyball had been fighting in the Lions of Rojava group with fellow Australian, Reece Harding, who stepped on a land mine and was killed in June.

The Daily Mail reports the father of Reece Harding wrote on Facebook.

Attention everyone – Ashley Dyball is flying home via Melbourne tonight. Ashley has risked his life and well being defending us from this evil scourge on civilised society along with other brave Kurdish ground forces. Please let us show the Government that we do not want this young man punished for standing up against Islamic extremism.

On landing in Melbourne, Australian Federal police questioned Dyball for several hours, the ABC reported, and he was released without charge. Australia has very clear laws about fighting in Iraq and Syria. It is an offence for Australian citizens to be involved on either side of the conflict.

Dyball. Image: Facebook.

I understand the Dyballs are happy and relieved their son has returned home alive. He is young and fellow Australian Reece Harding did not return. I understand they are worried he may face jail time.


But I wish they hadn’t spoken for me.

“How can you have evil and good and say it’s the same thing? It’s not. It’s not the same thing,” Mr Dyball Sr told the ABC when the family landed in Brisbane this morning.

He added that his son was a hero in “everyone’s books”.

No, Ashley Dyball is not a hero in my books.

A hero? By declaring he is trying to make the world a better place? That sounds as though Dyball was rolling out a grow your own vegetables program at local primary schools.

The reality is we are not sure what Dyball’s role was in the conflict.

Dyball (right) with his parents. Image: Facebook/No Jail For Ashley Dyball.

Mrs Dyball told the ABC she is proud of her son for dismantling land mines.

“Countless people and children that have been killed by landmines. And I don’t see what’s so criminal about dismantling landmines so people can return home.”

Whereas his lawyer, Jessie Smith, told the ABC: “There is also a separate and quite pressing public interest argument against prosecuting citizens who have been on the front line against Islamic State.”

Reducing terrorism to good guys and bad guys and the good guys can do anything they want? There’s no need to heed the law if what you are fighting for is “good”?  That’s exactly what caused the human rights violations in Guantanamo Bay.


Terrorism, the war on terror, whatever you want to call it, is an incredibly complex issue that can’t be summed up and solved in one sentence. It can’t be solved in one battle, one speech, one story, one action or one good versus evil narrative. It cannot be solved by throwing a couple of young men from faraway countries into combat.

Dyball (left) and his friend Reece Harding (right) who was killed in late June after stepping on a landmine. Image: Facebook.

It’s much more complicated than that.

Surely, the best chance of any kind of impact comes from unity, strategy, knowledge and consideration, not from reaction and rage. And where did the rage come from?

Mrs Dyball told The Age she had “no idea” why her son went to fight against IS.

Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, said that no matter how well-intentioned mercenaries are in the conflict in Syria they would face jail if they returned to Australia.

The Dyball’s are asking the Australian Government for amnesty for their son.

“This is wrong, what the Government is trying to do to him is wrong,” Mr Dyball has said.

Celebrating your son’s safe return from danger? Understandable. Waving placards and declaring him a hero because you have given yourself and the ones you love the right to defy the law and be judge, jury and executioner? That is exactly what civilised societies don’t do.