Syria: Derry man remanded in custody

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Suicide bomb training is provided at camps like the one allegedly attended by a man from Derry, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said an expert on the Middle East has assessed the grouping who Eamon Bradley claims to have spent months with as being an extreme organisation separate from the Free Syrian Army. A judge was also told firearms residue has been found on a head-torch belonging to the 25-year-old charged with receiving training in weapons and explosives.

New information was disclosed as his bid to be released on bail was adjourned again while investigations continue.

Bradley, of Melmore Gardens, will now spend Christmas in custody. He was arrested last month amid media reports that he had allegedly been in Syrian where a civil war has been fought.

He is further accused of possessing a grenade with intent to endanger life. The charges, the first of their kind against anyone returning to the North 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 Bradley, 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.

He also alleged that he spent months at a training camp run by opposition grouping Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), 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 on Friday, prosecution counsel disclosed that an academic expert on Middle Eastern Issues and Irabic identity has been engaged by police.

She told the court his view is that Jaysh al-Islam is an extreme organisation engaged in combat but not part of the Free Syrian Army.

“He will also say groups such as Jaysh al-Islam, when providing training there are three limbs to that,” the barrister said.

“Weapons training, mortar training which Mr Bradley also alluded to, saying he was present but didn’t participate ... and the third limb would be suicide bombing.

“Mr Bradley wasn’t questioned about that in interview.”

She stressed, however, expert opinion was that this forms part of the structural training provided at the camps.

The head-torch allegedly containing firearms residue and a kitbag are among further items being submitted for forensic analysis.

Previously the court heard how telephone calls during a three-month period from March to May appeared to have been to contacts with Arabic names.

It was confirmed on Friday, however, that cell-site analysis to track Bradley’s movements in the region is impossible.

Instead, images deleted from a mobile phone are being retrieved and viewed by other agencies, according to the prosecutor.

“There’s a database or knowledge of the territories and landmarks,” she said.

“They will be analysed as well to see if the exact geographical location can be pinpointed.”

Disputing the prosecution expert’s assessment, defence counsel Joe Brolly claimed it was in conflict with major news organisations who described Jaysh al-Islam as supporting the US-led coalition.

“Even the Devil can quote scripture,” the barrister contended.

Mr Brolly insisted there is still no evidence to contradict his client’s case that his intention was to help protect the Syrian people.

“This is, at the very least, a very naive, innocent young man,” he added.

However, Mr Justice Burgess decided to adjourn the application again to allow the forensic work to be carried out. He listed the case for a further hearing in February..