Father of British YPG volunteer in Syria accused of terrorist offenses Report from the UK


The father of a British man who volunteered to cooperate with the Kurdish YPG troops in Syria who are fighting the Islamic state was arrested in the first case in the UK and charged with terrorist offenses.

Police arrived at Solihull’s house of Paul Erdal (49) on December 11 with orders and continued to search his apartment and secure laptops and mobile phones. Erdal was arrested and, together with his 18-year-old son Sam, who was also threatened with arrest, taken to the police station for questioning.

The couple was interviewed for 13 hours about Erdal’s elder son Dan Newey (27), who left the UK in 2017 and traveled to northeastern Syria to join YPG (Kurdish Unit Supported by Western Countries) in a five-year battle against Isis . Newey returned to Syria in October after Turkey began an attack on YPG.

Erdal was accused of supporting terrorism and material support for terrorism under the Terrorism Act of 2000, which was held for four days and was released on bail. The court date has not yet been set.

The police also visited Nuneaton’s mother, Newey’s Vikki, on 11 December without a warrant and told her she would be arrested if she did not voluntarily visit the police station for questioning. They were questioned for about 12 hours before being released.

The case is the first time a British has been charged with terrorist offenses involving a family member who joined the YPG, a group the United Kingdom helped to support training, weapons and ground troops in the US-led international coalition against Isis.

Newey, who was previously investigated and included in the watch list, but was not charged with any crimes when he returned home in March 2018, said in a series of reports from Syria that he feared the case would be a precedent for other families.

“On the one hand, Britain militarily supports the YPG as part of an international coalition, and on the other, it actively persecutes people who have something to do with it. I don’t know why (police) arrested my father and asked my brother or mother. My actions are mine. Because they can’t get to me, they’re focused on my family, ”he said.

“If I’m lucky enough to experience anything that happens here, then I’ll go home and take whatever gives me” punishment. “

West Midlands police confirmed that a 49-year-old man in Solihull was charged with suspected terrorist financing and support and was released on bail until further investigation.

YPG is not prohibited under United Kingdom terrorism legislation. However, a number of UK nationals who joined the group were arrested or charged with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a movement based in Turkey and Iraq closely associated with the YPG. The UK and most other countries consider the PKK a terrorist organization.

Aidan James of Merseyside, 29, who trained with the PKK in Iraq to fight with Kurdish troops, was imprisoned for four years last month.

He was given permission to take part in a terrorist training session with YPG across the border in Syria because YPG cooperated with British support to defend the Kurdish people from the Isis threat.

Similar charges against former soldier James Matthews (43) of Dalston, London, were lifted last year.

Another former soldier, Daniel Burke, 32, was taken into custody on December 20 for two cases of terrorist acts, one of which was charged with organizing Newey’s transportation to Iraq from Barcelona.

The “material support” of terrorism faced by Newey’s father is commonly used to prosecute British family members and friends who have joined Isis.

Terrorist financing has a maximum sentence of 14 years, but shorter sentences have been imposed for small amounts of money transferred from family members to relatives in Syria.

Most importantly, in June this year, John Letts and Sally Lane of Oxford were convicted of sending their son £ 223 in September 2015 while he was in Syria, despite concerns that he had joined Isis. The spouses were sentenced to 15 months in prison, who were suspended for 12 months.

Earlier this month, a woman in Liverpool was found guilty of sending her husband in Syria 35 pounds, a self-styled independent fighter. Another woman, a girlfriend, has already pleaded guilty for £ 46. Both are to be soon convicted.

The position of YPG’s international volunteers has become more complicated as Kurdish forces dismantled the last pieces of Isis’ so-called Isis in March. Calif. Since then, Donald Trump reported the withdrawal of US troops in the area that acted as a buffer between YPG and Turkey, and Turkey subsequently launched a large-scale attack on its border on YPG.

As a result, British volunteers with the YPG now mostly fight against NATO’s ally and its Syrian insurgent forces.

In May 2019, Sajid Javid, then Secretary of State of the United Kingdom, warned all British citizens in Kurdish northeast Syria to leave within 28 days or face a 10-year imprisonment if they tried to return to the UK, adding officials urgently examined whether to tighten the rules for traveling to the region.

If implemented, this policy would be the first use of the new powers conferred on the Secretary of State in the law on combating terrorism and border security, which became law in February.

The increase in arrests and charges against the British in connection with YPG ties has led to speculation that the Home Office is considering including this group on the list of banned terrorist organizations. The Department stated that it did not comment on the decision-making process.

Since 2014, hundreds of international volunteers have traveled to Syria to fight with the Kurdish forces. At least seven British nationals were killed during the YPG.