“The Grand Wizard said he’d kill me if I came back”
While millions like to get out of the country to relax, but 53-year-old Andy Drury gets his kicks by travelling to some of the world’s most dangerous places.
Speaking to Daily Star Online, Andy shared his experiences of the frontlines of war in Somalia, infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and being exposed to radiation at a former nuclear test site which have featured in Netflix documentary Dark Tourist.
He first got the itch for danger zone tourism with his cousin Nigel when he visited war-torn Somalia in Africa some 30 years ago.
Andy later returned to the country in a bid to find a crashed Black Hawk helicopter.
When the pair touched down Islamist terrorists were in control of much of the country, and their guide told them frankly about the likelihood they could get killed.
Andy said: “He (the guide) told us we had a 50/50 chance of being killed, but we did end up finding the helicopter.
“When I came back I felt guilty and like a voyeurist and I wanted to find out about the country and I interacted with the people.”
Over the coming years Andy returned several times to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and on one occasion he came across a basketball team and promised he would return.
He said: “It was very powerful, and they told me how it (my return) changed their view on Westerners and how we aren’t all bad.”
The adventurer, from Guildford, Surrey, then revealed how he infiltrated the KKK, after hearing one of its high-ranking Grand Wizards – called Travis – speaking on an obscure radio station.
Using the internet to look up the white supremacist’s contact details, Andy arranged to meet him in Georgia and expose them.
Shortly after the Grand Wizard arrived at Andy’s hotel, dressed in full garb, he was driven to a secure location and threatened.
He told Daily Star Online: “When we got there he put his gun on the table and said he’d shoot us if we tried anything before he showed us around the compound. There we saw his armoury, the giant crosses they use to burn and his church in his home.
“The strangest bit was when we about to leave they were keen to know the latest Downton Abbey update.”
After returning from the US, Andy was asked by a company to go back and document the proudly-racist group, but he revealed they had sussed him out.
He added: “I was given a lot of money to go back, but they had found out more about who I was and he (the Grand Wizard) said he’d kill me if I came back.”
Andy’s danger zone holidays didn’t escape the notice of his wife Rachel, who is less enthusiastic about his choice of holiday locations.
He said: “I used to lie or downplay it, but when I was editing a video when I came back from Kirkuk she saw how graphic it was.
“She didn’t say much at the time and I have now spoken to her about it and told her it’s my life journey. I don’t think she accepts it and it is selfish (of me) as we have four children – the youngest being seven.”
But the risky adventures have brought with it some degree of fame, with Andy being asked to feature in news reports and documentaries.
His visit to Lake Chagan – dubbed Atomic lake – in Kazakstan arguably became his most famous after it was featured in last year’s Netflix documentary series Dark Tourist.
In the episode, he and Kiwi presenter-turned-mate David Farrier, 36, travelled to the site where a huge nuke was detonated where they had a swim – despite the lingering radiation in the area.
While the pair’s adventure at first appeared to be somewhat jovial, a visit to an orphanage where children suffering from the effects of radiation from the Semipalatinsk Test Site are being cared for.
Noticeably moved by the experience, Andy told Daily Star Online how seeing the children suffer made him relive his youth when he witnessed his brother die following battle cancer, aged just 10 – admitting his pursuit of danger may have been influenced by the tragic event.
The dad-of-four said: “What I saw there will live with me forever and it hit me personally.
“It brought back memories of my brother Robbie who died of leukaemia. He didn’t get to have a life, and I suppose this is why I do this because I don’t want my life to have nothing to show for it.”