The man accused of planting a bomb on a Tube train at Parsons Green in September has denied having any contact with the Islamic State group in Iraq.
The court heard that after Ahmed Hassan first arrived in the UK from Iraq in 2015, he claimed he had been kidnapped by IS and trained “to kill”.
But the 18-year-old told jurors at his Old Bailey trial that he had lied to improve his case for asylum.
He denies attempted murder and causing an explosion likely to endanger life.
Giving evidence, Mr Hassan told the court said: “I’ve never had any contact with ISIS at all”.
He said he wanted to come to the UK to study and felt he “had to make up something strong” in his application for asylum.
‘Make up stories’
The teenager said he had lied about being a prisoner of the terror group to officials after following the advice of other migrants he met when he was in the so-called Jungle camp in Calais.
“I came from a wealthy part of Northern Iraq and if I told them that they would have deported me,” he said.
“In the Jungle in Calais, people used to talk about these things and make up stories.
“I never came across a refugee who said he would tell the truth when he arrived in the country.”
Mr Hassan described his journey to the UK, first from Iraq to Turkey, then on to Italy where he claimed he had been “abused” by the Italian authorities.
He travelled from there to Paris and onto Calais, where he stayed for around two months before entering the UK on a lorry in October 2015.
He was then taken to Bay Tree, a Barnardo’s home in Horley, Surrey, where he was for about six months.
“It was very good,” he said. “I enjoyed it very much.
“We used to cook and eat together like a family. After spending time in Calais sleeping rough, it was a relief.”
Mr Hassan was enrolled on a two-year media course at Brooklands College in Weybridge, Surrey, and his “ultimate goal” was to become a wildlife photographer, “like David Attenborough”.
The teenager claimed to have won a student of the year prize six times in a row in Iraq, and was awarded another at his college in June 2017.
Mr Hassan described himself as “very shy” and said: “I enjoyed being behind the camera rather than in front of the camera.”
The court also heard was also running a business selling mobile phones.
He described himself as a Sunni Muslim and said he prayed five times a day, but when asked if he cared about other people’s faiths, he said: “Not at all, not in the slightest.”
‘State of confusion’
Mr Hassan also told the jury that both his parents were dead.
He said he was too young to remember his mother, but remembered his father, who died when he was seven.
The teenager said his father died in 2006, adding: “So far as I am aware I was told that he died in an explosion while he was working as a taxi driver.
“He used to go to work and come back evenings and then he did not come back.
“It was very difficult. I did not understand what was going on. I was in a state of confusion because of fighting, because of bombing.”
On Monday, the court heard from the prosecution that Mr Hassan blamed the UK and US for the deaths of his parents, and that he believed his father had been killed by an American bomb.
College lecturer Kayte Cable said Ahmed Hassan told her it was “his duty to hate Britain” because of what happened to his family.
The trial continues.