'Teen jihadist' promotes charity work on YouTube
TOOWOOMBA teenager Oliver Bridgeman who is living in war-torn Syria has featured in a YouTube video promoting the charity he claims to work for.
The video called "Oliver Bridgeman in Syria The REAL story!" shows him playing soccer with Syrian children and was published by Live Updates From Syria, a charity that operates in Syria.
Mr Bridgeman travelled to Syria in April this year and he was suspected of entering a conflict zone, an offence under Australian law.
The Toowoomba teenager has since denied any involvement with terrorist organisations and claims to be working for a humanitarian group.
His lawyer Alex Jones says Mr Bridgeman hasn't committed any offences and likely won't be charged if he returns to Australia.
In the video Mr Bridgeman is also shown doing push ups and star-jumps with children, and showing them how to play rugby.
Arabic music plays in the background and Mr Bridgeman uses Arabic words sporadically throughout the video.
He paid tribute to his sporting teammates from Australia and spoke about the struggles of Syrian orphans who he says are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders.
"Hi it's Oliver Bridgeman here," he said.
"I'm one of the newest members of Live Updates From Syria.
"Here today we are on one of the softball pitches here.
"I'm teaching them how to play rugby with a soccer ball.
"The organisation that I work Live Updates From Syria are very active in this context."
He said the group had schools which taught students "all sorts of things from Arabic to the Koran".
"We're here teaching them to play a little rugby, the kids are enjoying it," he said.
Mr Bridgeman said he was drawing on the sporting skills he learnt in Australia.
He played junior football in Toowoomba and was part of the team which represented the Darling Downs in 2011.
"I never thought I'd be here in Syria teaching some of the skills I learnt back home," he said.
"I want to... try and get them away from the horrors."
He said some of the children there were orphans.
"They lost their fathers in the war.
"A lot of these kids suffer from post-traumatic stress (disorder).
"These people have a lot of difficult social skills (sic).
"But I'm grateful that I can take them out today, show a bit of local skills (sic) that I learnt back in Australia.
"This is a big shout out to my local back in Australia (sic).
"Thank-you for giving me the opportunity to teach the skills that you taught me here.. my country's skills.
"I can reflect on what these kids and these kids can have a bit of what I learnt back in Australia, thank-you."
The video finishes with Mr Bridgeman leading a chant of thanks to Australia.
"Thank-you," he calls. "Australia", the children respond, "thank-you", "Australia", "thank-you", "Australia".
The video appears to be a public relations exercise for the charity.