James Matthews: British soldier who battled Isis faces terror charges

James Matthews featured in a documentary about British volunteers fighting Isis (Channel 4)

James Matthews featured in a documentary about British volunteers fighting Isis (Channel 4)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A former British soldier who volunteered to fight Islamic State with Kurdish militia in Syria is to face terror charges, it has emerged.

The Met Police revealed on Wednesday (February 7) that James Matthews has been requisitioned to appear in court in relation to one count of attending a place used for terrorist training. The alleged offence is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.

Matthews will face formal charges at Wesminster Magistrates' Court on February 14.

The 43-year-old, originally from Stoke, fought with the People's Protection Units, or YPG, against Isis, and even featured in a Channel 4 documentary profiling Britons who had volunteered to do battle with the terror group.

In the documentary, Matthews said he was inspired to join the YPG after seeing a picture of an Isis fighter holding up a woman's severed head on Facebook, saying it was "one of the most single evil things I've ever seen."

He also signed a letter from British YPG fighters, urging British people not to succumb to extremism in the wake of the spate of terror attacks which rocked the UK last year.

The YPG is not proscribed in the UK. However another of the group's British volunteers, Aiden Aslin, has twice been arrested after returning from fighting in Syria.

The second time Aslin was arrested, Nottinghamshire Police said they had detained him “following claims he had allegedly engaged in the preparation to fight against Daesh (Isis) and possessed articles for terrorist purposes in Iraq/Syria.”

Aslin has not been charged with an offence. Nonetheless the case has garnered national attention and Aslin's treatment sparked a petition on the Change.org website.