Belfast Telegraph

Man accused of Syria-linked terrorism charges 'went to help people', court heard

A Northern Ireland man accused of terrorism charges linked to the Syrian civil war told police he went there to help the people.

Eamon Bradley, 28, from Londonderry denied firing a bullet during three battles against Islamic State and the Syrian government but admitted signing up as a soldier in one of the rebel groups in 2014.

He said scenes of devastation on television and the killing of babies brought him to the conflict zone where he was given the name of Abu Dejannah and became a trained assault rifle-toting junior infantryman or mujahid fighter.

Bradley told detectives: "I did not think negotiations could help so maybe fighting was the best way."

The second day of his trial at Londonderry Crown Court heard his police interview notes on why he got involved.

He said: "I was fed up with life ... my life was going nowhere."

He used a Facebook page to research the fighting, convert to Islam and make contact with people who told him how to get there.

They pinpointed a village on the Turkey/Syria border and he was given a WhatsApp mobile messaging number to make contact with the rebels once there.

He flew from Dublin to Turkey in February 2014 then was smuggled across the border with Syria, crossing a river in a makeshift raft, a tractor wheel.

During police interviews, he said: "I went to help the people. I wanted to be among those who were being bombed.

"I just wanted to be there and then I could say to Allah at least I was there to do something."

Bradley had travelled to Istanbul then got a second internal flight to Adana, in southern Turkey.

He said he stayed with a man in a village near the frontier who he believed had links with the Free Syrian Army.

Once he reached Syria he signed a letter in Arabic which he understood to mean that he was a "mujahid" fighter, the court was told.

After months of training as the only western European at a camp run by the Army of Islam rebel group he was involved in battles in Aleppo, Idlib and Hama.

He never fired because he was still getting used to the surroundings.

Bradley became disillusioned and asked his commanders to go home .

He said sitting around doing nothing was the worst part of it, adding: "You could hear the bullets overhead."

Bradley, from the Benview Estate, denies six charges, including attending a terrorist training camp and receiving training in the use of a grenade.

The alleged offences are said to have been committed between March and October 2014.

The hearing continues.

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