UK

Woman jailed for funding Syria jihad

Amal El-Wahabi arriving at court Image copyright PA
Image caption Amal El-Wahabi was found guilty in August of funding terrorism

A London woman convicted of funding her husband fighting in Syria has been jailed at the Old Bailey for 28 months.

Amal El-Wahabi, 28, tried to trick a friend into carrying 20,000 euros (£15,800) to Turkey, the court heard.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC told El-Wahabi that she knew her husband Aine Davis was involved in fighting and she was sending him cash to help his cause.

Davis, a former drug dealer with a conviction for possessing a firearm, left the UK in July 2013.

The judge said El-Wahabi should spend half the sentence in prison and then be released to spend the remainder on licence. He said the length of the sentence had been influenced by the fact that she was the mother of two young children.

In January this year, Davis, also known as Hamza, asked his wife to arrange the delivery of cash to neighbouring Turkey.

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Image caption Prosecutors say this picture shows Aine Davis with fighters in Syria

El-Wahabi, from north London, persuaded an old school friend, Nawal Msaad, to act as courier in return for 1,000 euros.

However, the plan fell apart when Ms Msaad was stopped at Heathrow Airport and confirmed to police that she was carrying the cash. A court later heard claims that she had hidden it in her underwear.

Ms Msaad told the trial earlier this year that she did not realise what the cash was for - and she was found not guilty of being part of the plot.

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Image caption Aine Davis sent messages home to his wife, say prosecutors

Sentencing El-Wahabi, Judge Hilliard said that there was clear evidence that Davis had gone to Syria to fight under the black flag of Isis and also that he had "no true regard" for her.

"I am also satisfied that you knew he was engaged in violence with guns for extremist religious and ideological reasons and knew the money you were sending was destined for that purpose."

Judge Hilliard said that her two children, aged five and 17 months, had been "innocent victims" of the crime.

In mitigation, Mark Summers QC, appealed for a suspended sentence saying that El-Wahabi had lived under the "constant threat" that her husband would leave her for another wife in Syria.

But prosecutor Kate Wilkinson said that El-Wahabi had stayed in contact with Davis and had encouraged his activities.

She had sent one message saying that "it will be good for your body and soul".

Judge Hilliard said: "I am satisfied that the initiative for this offence must have come from Aine Davis and you committed it because you were infatuated with him and thought he might provide for you and your two children.

"You even contemplated taking your children to Turkey to be nearer their father, when it should have been obvious to you it was in their interests they should be as far away from him as possible."

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Image caption Aine Davis: Went to join the Syrian jihad

Acting Commander Terri Nicholson of the Metropolitan Police's Counter-Terrorism Command said: "A necessary component of terrorism is finance. Whether the funding of terrorism takes place in the UK or overseas, the offences are serious and will be subject to thorough investigation. In this case, a large quantity of cash was seized which would otherwise have supported terrorist activity in the Syrian conflict.

"This conviction should be viewed as a very clear message not to support those engaged in terrorism. There are well established charities through which people can donate for humanitarian purposes in Syria.

"These charities have experience in providing such assistance in high risk, insecure and dangerous environments. Donations must be made via these routes."