Terror Charges Dropped Against British Ex-Soldier Who Fought In Syria

As the war in Syria is showing signs that it could be winding down, more "foreign fighters" from Europe and the West are returning to their home countries, most especially jihadists who are in some instances (though notably not all) being charged and tried upon their return for violating anti-terror laws.

But the more interesting "hard" cases are currently playing out in UK courtrooms as more and more "volunteers" for the Syrian Kurdish YPG (or Kurdish "People's Protection Units") are also returning home.

And though in the instance of the secular Kurdish armed movement which currently holds up to 20% of Syrian territory in the north and east of the country American, British and French troops are actually directly supporting the YPG (which is the core component of the US-backed SDF), still — British men and women previously embedded with the group face arrest and trial upon their return on terrorism related charges, as demonstrated this week in the case of a British ex-soldier.  

James Matthews, from east London, was charged with receiving training in Iraq and Syria on or before February 2016 “for purposes connected to the commission of preparation of terrorism.” He was set to face trial in November. The 43-year-old is the first person to face prosecution for terrorism in the UK for volunteering with a group already helped by the British and American governments.

As Al-Masdar News reports, James Matthews pleaded not guilty to terror-related charges at a London court and has had the charges against him dropped, The Guardian revealed of the proceedings on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC told the Old Bailey that the Crown Court was dropping the charges against Mr. Matthews as they believed there wasn’t a realistic chance of getting a conviction due to a lack of evidence.

The defendant, from East London, volunteered with Kurdish forces to battle ISIS terrorists in Syria, and was surprised to be accused of “attending terrorist training camps in the war-torn state” upon his return to the UK.

Speaking on his behalf, his lawyer insisted that they always said the allegations against Mr. Matthews were “extraordinary and totally unjustified,” but described his client as happy the charges had been dropped.

When the charges were first announced it sparked anger from different segments of the UK, with pro-Kurdish activists accusing the government of letting returning ISIS and other jihadist terrorists off the hook while seeking to prosecute YPG volunteers. NATO ally Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group and likely lobbied the UK to pursue arrests of returning volunteers.

James Matthews isn’t the only Briton to have smuggled himself to Syria to engage in the conflict, with dozens of others also doing so, and at least seven being killed there.

The Foreign Office continues to urge British nationals to avoid Syria and hasn’t provided specific details about the number of Brits embedded in Kurdish forces there, saying “As all UK consular services are suspended in Syria, it is extremely difficult to confirm the whereabouts and status of British nationals in the country.”

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been significantly propped up by foreign fighters over the course of the conflict, primarily fighting ISIS, but some also elected to battle Turkey-backed forces which attacked Afrin earlier this year.


Watson 07564111 Thu, 08/02/2018 - 03:35 Permalink

The info is probably revealing the sheer incompetence of Government (one bit not knowing what another bit is doing).

A problem with any large organisation, but can be controlled by a proper leader.

Theresa May is not a serious leader - incompetent at the Home Office, weak (because of her own making - unforced election resulting in forced coalition with DUP) and incompetent in power.

But, to be fair, still not (quite) as Totally Useless as a guy called Edward Heath.


In reply to by 07564111

HowdyDoody Watson Thu, 08/02/2018 - 04:26 Permalink

When the UK wants to put its special forces covertly in on the ground, the people 'resign' from the military, then go to do whatever. When it is all over, the person rejoins with no loss of rank, privileges, pay, pension and the like.

A non-military british guy went over to east Ukraine to help the Novorossians deal with the USUK-supported neo Nazis trying to ethnically cleanse east Ukraine. He acted as a medic. In an interview at the front, a BBC reporter asked him if he would kill someone attacking him. He replied yes. This evidence was used to incriminate him back in the UK. He was sentenced to many years in jail.

So the moral of the story is, if you want to go off to help in war abroad, make sure you join the side supported by your government to help with its political aims such as destruction of a soveriegn state.


Edit: He was one of a group of three who simultaneously joined the same Kurd unit in Syria. The three were key figures in a 2015 TV documentary claiming to show that the UK was fighting ISIS. This was at a time when the USUK coalition claimed it was heavily bombing ISIS, yet ISIS was gaining more resources via its unaffected oil looting and gaining more territory from the Syrian government. Whatever USUK was doing, they seem pretty incompetent in implemented their publicly stated aim. (/sarc)

Frontline Fighting: Battling ISIS






In reply to by Watson

mtl4 eforce Thu, 08/02/2018 - 08:21 Permalink

Prosecutor Tom Little QC told the Old Bailey that the Crown Court was dropping the charges against Mr. Matthews as they believed there wasn’t a realistic chance of getting a conviction due to a lack of evidence.

Shows you prosecutors aren't the least bit interested in anything but convictions and are happy to serve under the JustUS system.

In reply to by eforce

africoman 07564111 Thu, 08/02/2018 - 04:57 Permalink


What rial?

He has been conducting & leading the I$I$ peaceful terror operations using MI6/CIA/Mossad surveillance.

yes? then

That is good service for her majesty queer Elsabet.


so instead award him with the Medalia and cover up the misdeeds of the UK.

then put him in undisclosed location aka put him to rest?

In reply to by 07564111

newboy Thu, 08/02/2018 - 02:54 Permalink

how about charging that boofhead boris johnson and that dickhead blair and that cunt may on terror charges would be more appropriate

moon_unit Thu, 08/02/2018 - 03:35 Permalink

Looks mentally restricted, figures. Plenty of that in Western armies. Easy to guess he would fall for the most propagandized forces pushed at badly-informed Western audiences. Did he not notice their glossy videos look just like the White Helmets ones? And always pretty young photogenic girl militia dancing, never their hairy-assed Kurdish soldier brethren.

Also he seems to have failed to notice that the Kurds are taking over Syrian majority cities. Just as Raqqa was a Syrian populated city before IS took it, so of course it had to be reduced to rubble by the West without any more advanced plans, what a surprise. Also no proper ground troops, so it's still being menaced by a few terrorists despite the carpet bombing. And full of rotting corpses even after all this time, mostly the city inhabitants themselves of course.

He's just the same as the gullible racist morons (the usual Canadian Banderists and OUNb  whose families were picked up in the Western Allies zone in WWII acting all innocent) that joined up with the HHers in Ukraine. Fortunately some sane folks from the US joined the other side and reported what was really going on.

BobEore moon_unit Thu, 08/02/2018 - 04:58 Permalink

Takfirist scum invade 'the Hedge' to join up with their Russo-talmudic buddies in trash-talking the only extra-governmental force in Syria which had the will and the means to take it to the jihadists. 

You sound like a jive-talkin Chechen but you could be any number of ethnicities - the Mossad draws its recruits from a wide variety of sources, bankrolling not only the war on the ground, but the war on the web. 

Best be slippin on your burka and slippin away into the night, jihadi stool-stumper. Your disinfo is as rank as your New World Ordure hide.

In reply to by moon_unit

moon_unit BobEore Thu, 08/02/2018 - 08:37 Permalink

So you failed to notice your Salafist buddies are getting wiped out as we speak, the Syrians just secured the Jordanian border, did no-one tell you? Boo-hoo, Bobby. Game over. Israel now saying they like a stable Syria. Now for the rest of the invaders to get theirs - many will NOT make it to the helicopters.

In reply to by BobEore

oncemore1 Thu, 08/02/2018 - 05:27 Permalink

They just imported 800 white helmets, or ISIS for that matter, if his attorney would start to demand the same status for hos client, it would be funny, indeed, to see Boris-idiot-Johnson to get involved as witness.

BritBob Thu, 08/02/2018 - 06:04 Permalink

It seems that it wasn't okay after all to fight for the PPK. The PPK has been unjustly put in the same bracket as the extremist fundamentalist groups. Ah, what happened to the Arab Spring and the quest for democracy?

IvannaHumpalot Thu, 08/02/2018 - 10:55 Permalink

He's not the first Western non-Muslim to go fight for the Kurds. The horror of Islamic State headchoppers with their sex-slave markets and genocide against the yazidis was just too much for some to stomach. These guys are not evil like the Sunni Islamonutz who ran off to the jihad. They wanted to get rid of the Caliphate and who can blame them for that.