A 25 year old Creggan man has told police how he trained for two months with a Syrian terrorist group, and fought in three battles against the Ba’ath regime and ISIL.
Eamon Bradley from Melmore Gardens appeared at the city’s Magistrate’s Court on Saturday facing charges under extra-territorial law of attending a weapons and explosives training camp in Syria on dates unknown between April 1 and October 28 of this year.
He was further charged with possession of a grenade in Syria with the intention of endangering life or causing damage to Syrian property.
The court heard how Bradley, who converted to the Muslim religion five years ago, had travelled to Turkey in January of this year after becoming aware of the conflict in Syria because he wanted to help the people of the country.
He told police he spent two months earlier this year at the Jaysh Al Islam training camp where he was trained in the use of AK47s, various other firearms and heavy artillery such as mortars.
Bradley further told police he took part in the training knowing that he would be fighting against the Ba’ath Regime and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
He added he had fought in three battles, as part of a small group of 20 or so fighters, where he had been armed with an AK47 and a grenade but said he had not used either of the weapons. The 25-year-old said he returned home after becoming ‘disllusioned’.
A police officer objecting to the bail application for Creggan man Eamon Bradley told a special sitting of Derry Magistrate’s Court on Saturday: “You do not just walk away from Syria scot-free.
“You do not just take part in battles and leave with a fake passport - not unless A) You have a purpose or B) You are on a break and that you are back to indoctrinate others before returning.
A legal representative for Bradley described him as a man who cared deeply for the people of Syria.
He said there was no evidence that he had ever been involved with any domestic terrorist organisations and that he had never been in trouble with the police.
District Judge Barney McElholm said while he did not want to get into the politics of the situation, there was “no doubt the regime in Syria has committed gross atrocities and human rights violations” and that it would difficult for the state to argue in support of ISIL.
However the police officer leading the investigation - which was triggered by media reports that Bradley was fighting in Syria - said the charges were specific to the training in and use of weapons - and not related to the bodies Bradley had claimed to fight against.
Mr McElholm said he did not believe anyone else had been tried under this section of terrorism law before in Northern Ireland and the law surrounding the issue was a “great area”.
He said it was “with some reluctance” that he was remanding Bradley in custody to appear again at Derry Magistrate’s Court on December 4, via videolink.