Terror accused 'went to Syria to help people being bombed'

Eamon Bradley
Eamon Bradley

A man accused of terrorism charges linked to the Syrian civil war said he wanted to help people there, a court has heard.

Eamon Bradley, 28, from Londonderry, denies six charges, including attending a terrorist training camp and receiving training in the use of a grenade.

He is being tried at a Crown Court in the city.

The alleged offences are said to have been committed between March and October 2014 after he watched television footage of the devastation in Syria.

The court heard Bradley told police: "The killing of babies, this is what brought me there."

He claimed the world had just sat back and watched the bloodshed, saying: "No-one was helping them."

Bradley, who had a beard and was casually dressed in court, flew to Turkey and crossed the river border with Syria in a tractor wheel.

He was warned not to join Islamic State and passed over the frontier with men who had earlier fled the armed group, the court heard.

He told a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective he had been put in a group known as the Army of Islam and had fired shots from an AK-47 assault rifle and a medium-sized machine gun during two months training at a camp near the Syrian city of Idlib.

Use of a mortar had been demonstrated, he said.

During 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."

He told detectives: "I knew I was going in there to oppose the (Syrian President Bashar) Assad regime."

The Muslim convert signed a letter in Arabic which he understood to mean that he was a "mujahid" fighter, which translates as someone engaged in jihad, the court was told.

The former heavy drinker had converted, practised Islam in his home and used Facebook and WhatsApp to make contact with people in Turkey who suggested how he could travel to the Syrian border, transcripts read to the jury revealed.

He got the bus from his home on the Benview Estate in Londonderry to Dublin Airport and then flew to Istanbul and Adana on Turkey's border in February 2014, paying £250 for the air fare, the interview note disclosed.

The hearing continues.