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Briton who fought ISIS with PKK in Iraq jailed for 4 years

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Briton who fought ISIS with PKK in Iraq jailed for 4 years

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:55 am

Briton who fought Isis alongside
PKK in Iraq jailed for four years


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Aidan James, who opposed Islamic State, guilty of terror training with banned Kurdistan Workers’ party

A British man who trained in Iraq to fight alongside Kurdish units against Islamic State has been jailed in the UK for four years.

Following a landmark trial, Aidan James, 29, from Formby, Merseyside, who had repeatedly been turned down for recruitment into the British armed forces on mental health grounds, was found guilty of training in weapons with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) in Iraq.

He was cleared of attending a place of terror training with Kurdish YPG groups, or People’s Protection Units, across the border in Syria. His acquittal was due to the YPG working in defence of the Kurdish people against the threat of a lethal and “genocidal” Isis force with British support.

In mitigation, James’s lawyer, Andrew Hall, said his client had decided to go to Syria amid significant personal troubles. He had health and psychiatric problems and was in the middle of a “turbulent separation” from the mother of his child when he decided to go to Syria. He had no previous military knowledge when he set out to join the war in 2017, the Old Bailey heard.

Hall said: “His state of mind during this period of time, as his journal explains, was that he felt his life was worthless, and going to Syria was the only thing he felt was open to him, and at least he would feel he was doing something positive with his life for the first time.”

The lawyer said James’s case was “different” as he had had no intention of advancing the aims of the PKK group and had been only focused on fighting Isis. “His intention was to go off to Syria and fight Isis, and he maintained that intention both in his time in Iraq and his time in Syria.”

James was not a “man driven by a terrorist ideology who continues to pose a threat”, Hall added.

Sentencing him at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Edis highlighted video evidence of James learning to fire an AK47 rifle, and his journal’s detailed descriptions of his time with the PKK.

James was jailed for 12 months for the terror training offence and a further three years for separate offences of possessing cocaine with intent to supply, and possessing cannabis, to run consecutively.

He admitted the charges after drugs were seized in a search of his mother’s home around the time he posted his intention on Facebook, 2017, to travel.

The case marks the first time a Briton has been put on trial for going to Syria to oppose Isis, following the dropped charges against the former soldier James Matthews, 43, from Dalston, London.

An earlier trial had heard how James had been in contact with the anti-terror Prevent programme before he left Britain for Iraq in August 2017. While there he wrote in his diary that sitting on a roof with a 50-calibre machine gun was like something out of Mad Max. By December, he wrote, the situation with Turkey was worsening. “Daesh [Isis] is the biggest threat the world has seen since Hitler so anything I can do in these operations is good.”

Later, as he prepared to go home, James wrote in his diary of his “amazing time”. He wrote: “Lost good friends, met great ones, fought on frontline numerous times, killed Daesh soldiers, been shot at many times by Isis and our own guys. Drove humvys, sat on roof as drove through desert, attacked by suicide vehicles many times, mortar fire, sniper RPG, drones, chilled with donkey.”

The court heard that James finally returned to Liverpool John Lennon airport on 14 February 2018 after taking flights via Baghdad, Amman and Amsterdam.

James declined to give evidence but denied training with PKK terrorists in Makhmour, Iraq, on or before 1 October 2017, and attending another place for training in Syria with YPG units on or before 4 November 2017.

He has already spent one year, eight months and 24 days in custody while awaiting trial and retrial at the Old Bailey, which will count as time served.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... four-years
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Briton who fought ISIS with PKK in Iraq jailed for 4 years

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