A former British soldier who travelled to Syria to fight against Islamic State terrorists has been charged with terror offences.
James Matthews, 43, has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court later this month accused of attending a “place used for terrorist training” in the first case of its kind in the UK.
The Brit joined up with the Kurdish YPG fighting force in 2015, which is widely credited with driving back Islamic State, and featured in the Channel 4 documentary The Brits Battling ISIS.
He served three tours with the militia group, focusing on clearing mines and booby traps, Kurdish sources told The Telegraph. According to the paper, he served in the British Army for several years in the 1990s and was deployed to Bosnia.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said Mr. Matthews had been “requisitioned to appear” in court on the 14th of February, adding:
“James Matthews, a UK national, will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on February 14 to be formally charged with attending a place or places in Iraq and Syria where instruction or training was provided for purposes connected to the commission or preparation of terrorism on or before 15 February 2016 under Section 8 of the Terrorism Act 2006.”
Despite authorities moving to target Mr. Matthews, it is thought that around half of the Brits who went to the war zone to fight for Islamic State terrorists are now back in the country, many living undisturbed alongside the public.
In October last year, the Soufan Center estimated that at least 425 British Islamic State terrorists have so far returned to the UK, with many “disappeared” from the view of security services.
Later that month, a senior government adviser has said authorities were not prosecuting many Islamic State volunteers, believing they should be reintegrated rather than punished.
Max Hill QC, who acts as the government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, also admitted that there were about 400 fighters back in the UK.