Irish family distraught as son joins Syria's rebels
The family of an Irish man who is believed to be in Syria fighting for rebels battling the regime of President Assad are distraught by what he has done.
Eamon Bradley – who was born and brought up in the Creggan area of Derry – is understood to have told his mother he was going to Turkey on holiday.
But instead he gained passage to Syria where he has joined an organisation fighting in the bloody civil war there.
Last night at the Bradley family home his aunt said Mr Bradley's mother was too distraught to speak.
While it is still not clear if the former St Joseph's High School student is with the emerging extremist group Isis or one of the many other factions fighting in the Middle East, he has in recent months developed a deep interest in the conflict that is ravaging Syria.
Eamon Bradley - pic: Facebook
On his Facebook page, Bradley lists among his interests books with a strong Islamic association including Medicine Of The Prophet, The Inevitable Caliphate? and The Koran.
More recently he was connected through social media with the Islamic Front, Syria/Islamic Army and Muhammed Islamic Movement.
This particular site has hundreds of photographs of young men in army fatigues, some clearly at training camps while others pose with their faces covered, brandishing weapons.
While many of Mr Bradley's friends on Facebook are clearly people he knows from his home city of Derry, there are many more now who live and work in the Middle East and who have Islamic names.
A lot of these 'friends' are associated with the conflict in Syria.
Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province. Pic: Reuters
His apparent conversion to Islam has left many of his friends in Creggan bewildered, including one who said: "He's the subject of conversation every time we meet up for a drink.
"No one really gets it.
"He dropped out of circulation a while ago and no one knew what he was up to.
"He was known for being a decent fella and a good lad.
"He never went completely overboard like some of the crowd
"I often thought he was a wee bit different to the rest of them.
"And now I know I was right.
"One minute he's living in the Creggan off Westway Road and the next he's shacked up in a desert carrying an AK-47."
The brutal conflict in Syria is thought to have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, including those of some of the hundreds of foreigners, including many from the UK, who have flocked to the region to fight.