Belfast High Court: ‘Arabian contacts’ found on phone of Derry man in Syrian case

Eamon Bradley, 25 leaving Derry Magistrates' Court after an earlier appearance.
Eamon Bradley, 25 leaving Derry Magistrates' Court after an earlier appearance.
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Detectives investigating a Derry man accused of receiving weapons and explosives training in Syria have discovered apparent text and telephone communication with Arabian contacts, the High Court heard today.

Prosecutors also revealed police are examining 77 evidentiary exhibits as part of the case against Eamon Bradley.

Examination of a phone and a computer hard drive is to be completed within a month amid attempts to establish his reasons for being in the Middle East.

Cell-site analysis will be carried out in a further effort to track his movements.

The 25-year-old was arrested earlier this month amid media reports that he had allegedly been fighting in the Syrian civil war.

Bradley, of Melmore Gardens in the city, is accused of possessing a grenade with intent to endanger life and being trained in weapons and explosives.

The charges, the first of their kind against a terror suspect returning to Northern Ireland from the region, were brought under the new extra territorial enabling legislation.

Pictures of him with heavy-caliber ammunition, apparently taken in a Middle Eastern country, were said to have been found on his mother’s mobile phone.

Another image of him in combat gear had been transferred onto a wall-mounted canvas print.

But the accused, who said he converted to the Muslim faith six years ago, claimed he travelled to the region to help those being subjected to atrocities.

He told police that he took part in three battles against Islamic State and Assad forces.

Bradley also alleged that he spent months at a training camp run by opposition groupings but never used a weapon in combat.

According to his account he eventually decided to quit and return home due to disillusionment at the chaotic tribal arrangements and his inability to speak Arabic.

As he renewed his application for bail today, prosecution counsel disclosed new information about the investigation into his alleged associations while in the Middle East.

She said a volume of calls during a three-month period from March to May appear to have been to contacts with Arabic names.

Among the names stored on phone were two references to an Abu Ahmed, one with the word “camp” after it, the court heard.

Referring to text messages sent at the time, the barrister said one stated: “In Syria having bomb training.”

Another allegedly read: “In a training camp” followed by a word thought to read “Jihad!”.

The prosecutor confirmed: “There are 77 exhibits in total, and certain of the exhibits are being prioritised.”

Mr Justice Burgess was told it could take months for all the Arabic to be interpreted.

“Because of the sensitive nature of this case only certain translators can be used,” prosecution counsel added.

Joe Brolly, defending, argued it was currently “inconceivable” for any case to proceed against Bradley.

He said: “There’s not a shred of evidence to contradict the assertion that he was there with a group aligned to the US-led coalition.

“That will be a complete defence in law - it’s described as being in the British public interest.”

Stressing the length of time it will take to complete the investigation, Mr Brolly also claimed Prime Minister David Cameron and the Government’s focus was on those thought to be aligned with Islamic State.

“Mr Camerson said last week they are currently trawling through 200 people suspected of having been linked with ISIL in Syria,” he told the court.

“One would imagine they would be the priority.”

However, Mr Justice Burgess decided to adjourn the application until December 19, when phone and computer analysis is to be completed.