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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP youth take offer to battle ISIS to US senator

Cambodia National Rescue Party youth member Soung Sophorn
Cambodia National Rescue Party youth member Soung Sophorn talks to the media last year. Soung Sophorn is one of the 50 CNRP youth who is offering to fight Islamic Militants. PHNOM PENH POST

CNRP youth take offer to battle ISIS to US senator

A former opposition party candidate leading a band of youth activists that want to join the US-led fight against the so-called Islamic State has submitted a petition to prominent Republican Senator Ted Cruz asking for support.

Soung Sophorn, 27, the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s failed candidate in Pailin province last election, said he asked Cruz to pass on the group’s request to fight the militants, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, to US President Barack Obama.

While he claims that Cruz replied and promised to write back next month, Sophorn would not provide copies of emails to the Post.

“The important point is that we asked to join [the US] to eliminate jihad, which is an international disease,” Sophorn said, adding that he would soon campaign in the provinces to draw more recruits.

The activist claims to have been put in touch with Cruz by a Cambodian friend in the US who knows him. Spokespeople for Cruz – a possible presidential election candidate in 2016 who has said the US should bomb ISIS “back to the Stone Age” – had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.

The youths’ quixotic quest – which they hope will earn them the US’ “help” in regaining the island of Phu Quoc, or Koh Tral, from Vietnam – has reflected poorly on CNRP leadership, according to some analysts.

But party public affairs head Mu Sochua yesterday said that although she had tried to dissuade Sophorn, “he was acting on his own”.

“Even though he [was] an [election] candidate, he’s still an individual,” she said.

Sochua also denied there was any link between the rhetoric of CNRP leaders, who have pledged to attempt to wrest back control of Koh Tral from Vietnamese control, and the youths’ ideas.

“This is not the way to get back Koh Tral. If he wants to get back Koh Tral it has to be decided as a party with a strategy and policy. And we have always said getting Koh Tral [back] would be through the international court,” she said.

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