A Briton who left to fight Daesh in Syria was sentenced Thursday to a year in prison in London for training in the fight with the Kurdish PKK movement, considered a terrorist by the United Kingdom.
Aidan James, 29, was sentenced by the Old Bailey Criminal Court to twelve months in prison for terrorism training and three years in prison for cocaine trafficking, which he is serving consecutively. This is the first time a Briton has been tried for going to Syria to oppose Daesh.
Aidan James from Formby (North of England) had tried several times to join the British army but had been refused because of his sanity. He had finally left for Syria in 2017 and had initially stayed in a refugee camp in Iraq where members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) had taught him how to handle weapons.
Personal problems and a "difficult separation"
Videos presented at the trial showed him learning to shoot with an AK47 Kalashnikov, and the Brit had also reported his activities in a diary. Aidan James had received "even greater training" in Syria from the Kurdish militia of the People's Protection Units (YPG), the judge said. But he was not sentenced for terrorist training with this group, which then defended the Kurds "against the deadly and genocidal threat of Daesh," said the judge.
His lawyer, Andrew Hall, pointed out that he had personal problems and was having a "difficult separation" with his child's mother when he decided to leave. He claimed that his client had approached the PKK in order to train himself to fight Daesh and not in order to pursue the objectives of the Kurdish organization.
"His intention was to go to Syria and fight Daesh and he kept that intention during his time in Iraq and Syria," Hall said.
He said that Aidan James "was not a man driven by a terrorist ideology" and posed no threat. His client had returned to the United Kingdom by plane in February 2018.