MacTaggart had long been drawn to anarchist ideology and was familiar with the Kurds’ plight and politics. “He was attuned to injustice, and it annoyed him to be a passive spectator,” says his mother, Melissa. The Islamic State atrocities in the fall of 2014, in part, galvanized him to take action, and according to his family he had soon put together a plan to join the YPG. After years of being adrift, he’d found something he felt truly passionate about. “I’ve always believed people should do something with their lives, instead of just sitting around and going to work, punching in the nine-to-five,” he said in the video.