Belfast Telegraph

Derry man facing Syria terrorism charges was involved in three battles, court hears

By Michael Donnelly

A Derry man accused of terrorist offences in the Middle East, never fired a single shot, although he allegedly admitted involvement in three battles, including one against the extremist fundamentalist ISIS group, his trial heard on Monday.

The 28-year-old convert to Islam, Eamon Bradley with an address in Benview Estate in the Coshquin area of the city, denies three charges, arising out of his time in war torn Syria, where he had gone three years ago, allegedly to help in the struggle 'against the dictator Assad'.

The charges allegedly dating from March to September that year, include attending terrorist training camps and receiving training in the use of firearms, including an AK47, DShK 38 and a BKC machine gun and a grenade.

However, Londonderry Crown Court, sitting in Omagh, also heard that Bradley, who had not aligned himself to any particular Muslim sect, soon grew "disillusioned and was not happy as he thought he would be" and returned to his native Derry, returning as he'd travelled via Turkey.

But prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy told the jury of six men and six women that regardless of the charges allegedly being committed outside the jurisdiction, "in law there is no such thing as terrorism for a just cause".

Mr Murphy also told them that "based on the admissions of the defendant at interview he is guilty of the offences with which he is charged.

"Your role," he told the jury, "is to determine not the rights or wrongs of the conflict in Syria, or whether or not you think Mr Bradley thought others would benefit from his actions.

"Your role is, on the basis of the wording of the criminal offences with which he is charged, whether he is guilty or not guilty," said the senior barrister.

Earlier the prosecutor told the jury and trial Judge Brian Sherrard that before his return to Derry, police searched his mother's Melmore Gardens home in the Creggan Estate, following reports that July in the media, later said to be the Belfast Telegraph.

Police seized a number of items, including Mrs Bradley's mobile phone on which was a photograph proporting to show her son in camouflage gear sitting "before a tripod" of assault rifles.

When Bradley, whose passport showed he'd travelled to the Middle East in February, did return that October, he was arrested and during eight interviews, during which "a solicitor was present throughout, and he was cautioned", he made a number of alleged admissions.

Mr Murphy claimed Bradley told detectives on travelling to the Syrian training camp, where he was trained in the use of weapons, grenades and battle tactics, he also signed a paper agreeing to becoming 'a mujahideen .... a fighter', with a group called Jaysh al-Islam.

In addition to being taught how to use the assault rifles and heavy machine gun, he also learned how to dismantle and put them back together again, and that he was given an AK47 which he carried along with four magazines, each loaded with 30 rounds, and a bag containing a hundred rounds of ammunition.

The court was told that Bradley made further admissions of being involved in three battles in the Aleppo region of Syria.  Two of these involved clashes against President Assad’s forces and one against the so-called Islamic State group, ISIS. However, he maintained that during all his battlefield experiences, he "never fired a single shot", and soon became "disillusioned".

The Derry man also allegedly told police while he was not sure why he felt this, it could have been because "of the bombs".  However, he still "considered himself a member of the Army of Islam", and that those around him "were grateful to him for coming to Syria".

In the last of his interviews Bradley allegedly said while they tried to persuade him to stay, he had no problem with his decision to leave, and rejected any suggestion this was because he was "tasked" to carryout work in Northern Ireland.

Mr Murphy said that Bradley may have been "naive" in going to Syria at all, but "by his own admission" had gone there to fight "most definitely in Syria" and against the regime of President Assad, and that the situation would only be resolved through force.

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