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BY STEPHEN STE­WART s.ste­[email protected]­ A SCOT­TISH hero who dodged death fac­ing the Tal­iban in Afghanistan has joined the Aus­tralian Army to hunt Is­lamic State ter­ror­ists.

For­mer Bri­tish sap­per Steve Driver is now a com­bat engi­neer with the Aussie armed forces teach­ing Philip­pines marines how to blast through doors and walls so they can seek and de­stroy Is­lamic ex­trem­ists.

He served gru­elling tours in North­ern Ire­land, Bos­nia, Iraq and Afghanistan be­fore tak­ing a few years off from mil­i­tary life then fi­nally finding a new home with the Aus­tralian Army.

He said: “When I re­joined the army, I was say­ing I felt as if I still had some­thing to give. Maybe this is it. If I can help an ally keep them­selves alive and de­feat an en­emy that I’ve been fight­ing for 15 years and is on our doorstep, that’s worth­while.

“They will keep com­ing un­less we do some­thing about it.”

Sergeant Driver, orig­i­nally from Pais­ley, joins an Aus­tralian De­fence Force mis­sion that has trained more than 7000 Philip­pines troops to beat back an Is­lamist in­sur­gency in the coun­try’s volatile south.

He and his fel­low Aus­tralian troops are teach­ing ex­plo­sive “breach­ing”, which lets forces keep the el­e­ment of sur­prise as they move quickly through build­ings.

It also helps them avoid booby-trap bombs rigged to doors and win­dows, or snipers po­si­tioned in build­ings across the street ready to shoot soldiers try­ing to en­ter a build­ing.

The Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment moved quickly to of­fer sup­port last year af­ter about 1000 Is­lamist mil­i­tants united


un­der the IS ban­ner and seized the south­ern Mus­lim city of Marawi.

This sparked a five­month siege and cost the lives of at least 165 soldiers and marines as well as dozens of civil­ians.

Aus­tralia wants to stop an IS-backed group gain­ing a foothold in the area. The ADF’s chief of joint op­er­a­tions, Air Mar­shal Mel Hupfeld, de­scribes the threat as a “clear and present dan­ger” given the move­ment of for­eign fighters back to south-east Asia.

He said: “The Philip­pines is one very dra­matic ex­am­ple of that.

“The fact that IS in the Philip­pines had very strong links back into Syria and Iraq is one of the rea­sons why our na­tional in­ter­est re­ally starts to in­ter­sect with that of the Philip­pines.”

ARMY MAN Com­bat engi­neer Sergeant Steve Driver

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