Formby lad who fought ISIS on trial for ‘terrorist training’

15th October 2019

A Formby man who travelled to Syria to fight against ISIS in the forces of the Kurdish resistance has commenced trial in London accused of joining a proscribed group called the PKK or the Kurdish Worker’s Party, which was made illegal in 2001.

The court at the Old Bailey has heard that Aidan James left the UK for the Middle East in August 2017 to fight with Kurdish forces opposing the extremist caliphate which had then taken hold of much of Syria and Iraq. According to prosecutors, James left the UK with the specific purpose of “taking part in the violence” and should therefore be treated as a terrorist who helped “fuel the conflict”.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told the court: “The prosecution case against this defendant is that, as a citizen and resident of this country, who did not know and had never been to Iraq or Syria before, and who had no prior military knowledge or experience whatever, and no official sanction at all, he went there for four months to fight. He picked one particular cause in foreign conflict and he joined in.”

“He had picked his cause and it was the cause of just one of the many groups of people that inhabit that part of the world and would like it to be their own – the Kurdish people, or at least that part of them that is represented by the organised militia that he went to fight with. . . . He went as an individual to Syria to fight with guns and explosives. In doing so, he set out to advance a political and ideological cause.. . .his attendance at two places of training amounts, in each instance, to a criminal offence, because the law does not permit attendance at terrorist training places, anywhere in the world.”

Jurors were told James travelled to a safe house in Makhmour, Iraq and lived there between the end of August and the start of October 2017. While there, he allegedly received training with weapons from the PKK, before moving on to Syria until November 4 2017, where he was further trained by the YPG (the Kursish forces who forced ISIS out of Northern Iraq and Syria) and went on to fight with them in Syria.