Belfast Telegraph

A mother's hug for Derry son in the dock as he faces charges of Syria arms training

By David Young

A mother entered the dock and hugged her son at the Magistrates Court in Londonderry before he was led into custody charged with receiving weapons training from opposition forces in the Syrian civil war.

She was the only member of his family allowed in the court which heard Eamon Bradley, from Melmore Gardens in Derry's Creggan area, has given detectives an extensive account of his role in the bloody conflict earlier this year.

Bradley (25) was arrested in Derry last Thursday only days after returning from Syria.

He appeared in court on Saturday charged under UK terror legislation with committing two offences in Syria - possession of explosives with intent to endanger life, namely a grenade, and receiving training in arms and explosives.

Dressed in a black T-shirt, bearded Bradley, who the court heard converted to Islam five years ago, spoke only to confirm his date of birth and that he understood the charges he faces.

He was remanded in custody after his application for bail was refused by District Judge Barney McElholm.

A PSNI detective sergeant told the judge he could connect the accused with the charges.

The officer said Bradley answered all questions during two days of questioning at Antrim police station.

"During this account he stated, having converted to the Muslim faith and becoming aware of the conflict in Syria, he determined he would travel to Syria to help the people," he said.

"He described to police contact with people he doesn't identify on the internet which assisted him to getting to the Syrian/Turkish border, which is a known crossing point into Syria for the ongoing conflict."

The officer said Bradley, an Irish citizen, flew to Turkey from Dublin in February and stayed at various locations near the Syrian border for two months.

"That's where he learned more about Islam and various groups and groupings in the area," he said.

The officer said Bradley told detectives he assembled with a group of men and went over the border into Syria via a river crossing.

"Mr Bradley has informed police that he attended a training camp under the control of a group called Jaysh Al Islam, which translated is Army of Islam," he said.

"He was there for a period of approximately two months. He stated he received training in this camp in AK-47 firearms, mortars and other explosive weapons.

"He claimed that he signed up to be part of the Mujahedeen knowing they would be fighting to overthrow the Baath regime and fighting against Isil."

Applying for bail, the accused's lawyer insisted his client believed he had not committed any crime.

"Mr Bradley genuinely doesn't believe he has done anything wrong," he said, noting he came from a "good family" and had never been in trouble with the law before.

The lawyer claimed it was the first occasion someone in the jurisdiction had been charged with extra-territorial offences under those specific terms of UK terror legislation.

Bradley was remanded in custody and will appear before the court again via videolink on December 4.

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