A British man accused of helping fuel the violence in Syria by joining Kurdish militants fighting Islamic State boasted his life was like something out of Mad Max in one of a series of dairy entries, a court has heard.
Aidan James, 28, from Formby, Merseyside, had no previous military knowledge when he allegedly set out to join the bloody war in 2017 on behalf of the Kurdish people.
James is on trial for engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and for undergoing terrorist training for his involvement with groups associated with the Marxist political organisation, the PKK.
The PKK, or or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, has been banned in the UK since 2001 for its advocating of Kurdish self-rule through both political and armed struggle.
James is accused of receiving training from the PKK, including weapons, before going on to fight with a series of Kurdish YPG units, or People’s Protection Units, in Syria.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said: “Mr James is not charged with any offence that his purpose was simply to go to fight Isis, rather the charges are levelled against him because his intention was to lend support to advance a political or ideological cause.”
James prepared himself to join their cause in an “amateurish way” and underwent weapons training in Iraq for a month, the Old Bailey was told.
From there, he went to the Syrian border with Iraq for another month of training, jurors heard.
James had been monitored by police via the anti-terror Prevent programme after broadcasting his intentions on Facebook and had even been arrested on April 28 2017.
He had been bailed until the next month but the bail was cancelled and no further action was taken against him.
On the day his passport was returned, he wrote in his journal that he was still planning to travel to Syria or Iraq “to fight this most important of battles against the sick ideology of Daesh”.
James prepared for his trip by undergoing initial training in north Wales and by acquiring rudimentary combat equipment including body armour.
He later began planning his journey, arriving in Makhmour, Iraq, between the end of August and October 1 2017.
In a series of journal entries he described his training and a series of raids against Isis strongholds.
In one he mourned the death of a fellow soldier, writing: “Great guy.
RIP friend we will continue to fight.”
“Raids went good. After the raids we sat and drank shots of red bull and discussed politics,” another entry read.
In another he describes sitting on the roof of a humvee “with a 50 calibre machine gun, like something out of Mad Max”.
But he also expressed his discontent with the mindset of his commanders, complaining they were trying to brainwash him.
He wrote: “There’s a lot of f***ed up things here. Ideology comes before all else – it’s just basically a f****** brainwash factory.
“I’m here to help people. Not to get brainwashed and change my beliefs.”
Mr Heywood said: “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.
“The prosecution case against him is that he went as an individual to Syria to fight with guns and explosives.”
Mr Heywood added: “For these purposes, the law says that what he wanted to do was terrorism, even if his eventual fighting was against other terrorists.”
James denies engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and two charges of attending a place used for terrorist training.