Brit who fought against Isis in Syria is jailed
Aidan James found guilty of terror offences over training with banned Kurdish militia
A British man who travelled to Syria to fight alongside a Kurdish militia against the Islamic State has been jailed for terrorism offences and drug charges.
Aidan James joined the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2017 and attended a weapons training camp in Iraq.
The 29-year-old, from Formby, Merseyside, had “repeatedly been turned down for recruitment into the British armed forces on mental health grounds” and had no military training, says The Guardian.
He was in the middle of a “turbulent separation” from his partner, the mother of his child, when he made the decision to go to Syria, the Old Bailey heard.
“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,” said James’s lawyer, Andrew Hall.
Following what The Guardian describes as a “landmark trial”, James was found guilty this week of one count of attending a place used for terrorist training, and jailed for four years.
A jury acquitted him of a second count of the same offence, over training with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), in Syria. The YPG fought to defend Kurdish people against the “genocidal” threat of Isis.
James had denied both terror charges.
The terror training offence of which he was convicted accounted for 12 months of his sentence, with a further three years for drugs offences that he committed before he went to Syria - possession of cocaine with intent to supply and possession of cannabis.
James admitted the two drugs offences at a previous hearing at Liverpool Crown Court. He has spent 21 months in custody while awaiting trial at the Old Bailey, which will count as time served.
James is the first British person who fought against Isis to stand trial for terror offences, says the BBC.
James Matthews, a former British soldier who also fought against Isis with the YPG, was charged with terror offences in 2018 but the case against him was dropped earlier this year.
Matthews was arrested at Portsmouth ferry port in 2016 on his return from Syria, and spent two years on bail before being charged, says The Independent.