British man ‘travelled to Syria to fight terrorists‘

A British man “fuelled violence and devastation” in Syria by travelling to fight with guns and explosives against the Islamic State, a court has heard.

Aidan James, 28, of Formby, Merseyside, had no previous military knowledge when he allegedly set out to join the war in 2017 alongside the YPG Kurdish militia.

The Old Bailey heard his four months of combat was “terrorism, even if his eventual fighting was against other terrorists”.

Mr James denies terrorism offences.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told jurors violence in Syria had been fuelled by the involvement of individuals on all sides with no prior link with the land or its people.

He said Mr James had not been to Iraq or Syria and had no association with Kurdish people but “picked one particular cause and joined in” and “lent his support to advance a political or ideological cause”.

The court heard Parliament has the power to proscribe groups linked to terrorism worldwide, banning UK citizens from joining or funding them.

One of the three groups Mr James was allegedly associated with – the PKK – has been banned since 2001 for its advocation of Kurdish self-rule through both political and armed struggle.

‘Bought combat equipment‘

The court heard he had been monitored by police after broadcasting his intentions on Facebook “to fight this most important of battles against the sick ideology of Daesh”.

He was arrested on 28 April 2017 but bailed before no further action was taken against him, jurors heard.

The jury heard on the day his passport was returned, he wrote in his journal he was still planning to travel to Syria or Iraq.

Mr James bought rudimentary combat equipment including body armour before undergoing initial training in North Wales then travelled to Makhmour, Iraq, in August 2017, jurors were told.

He is accused of receiving training from the PKK, including weapons, before going on to fight with the People‘s Protection Unit known as the YPG in Syria.

Mr James has pleaded not guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and two charges of attending a place used for terrorist training.

The trial continues.