Couple jailed for funding Islamic State fighter nephew

By Steve Swann
BBC News Home Affairs team

image copyrightMetropolitan Police

A hospital director has been jailed for more than two years after admitting sending money to a nephew who was fighting with so-called Islamic State.

Mohammed Golamaully, 48, from Mitcham, south London, acted without the knowledge of his nephew's parents.

He and his wife, Nazimabee, 46, pleaded guilty in October to transferring £219 in August 2014, knowing it may be used for terrorist purposes.

She was sentenced to one year, 10 months in prison.

Sentencing Golamaully to two years and three months, Judge Anuja Dhir QC said: "It is a worrying feature of this case that an intelligent and well respected family man who was regarded as a good neighbour, compassionate work colleague and a loving parent could behave in this way."

The court heard how Golamaully was a "hardworking family man" who came to the UK from Mauritius in 1990, working his way up from a mental health nurse in the NHS to a "very well paid " job in the private sector as a hospital director.

From 2010 to his arrest in 2015 he was the manager of the Huntercombe Hospital, a psychiatric intensive care unit in Roehampton, south-west London.

A hospital spokesperson told the BBC: "The charges are completely unrelated to his professional work and our senior management were not aware of his personal views."

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, said it was clear the couple had sent the money knowing it would help their nephew continue his terrorist activity.

"Whilst the sum may appear relatively small we cannot ignore the fact that any amount of cash sent to terrorists is money which is enabling them to further their hatred and carry out attacks," he said.

Deception encouraged

Defending, Richard Thomas, said his client had "become very concerned about events in Syria" but was now "horrified looking back at the language" he used in his communications with his nephew, Zafirr Golamaully, who travelled from his home in Mauritius to join IS in Syria in March 2014.

In one online exchange, the hospital director spoke positively about a speech by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He also described fighters for the opposition Kurdish group the PKK as "dogs" who "need eradicating".

On the messaging app Whatsap, Golamaully encouraged his nephew to deceive his parents about why he was going to Turkey.

In March 2014 Zafirr Golamaully said: "Told them I'm going to get 'nursing' training and that I won't be available for next two weeks."

His uncle replied: "The story of two weeks' training sounds plausible prior to undertaking humanitarian aid."

Funding network

Prosecutor Daniel Pawson-Pounds described Zafirr Golamaully as "a relatively high profile fighter for Islamic State in Syria" who has assumed the online alias of Paladin of Jihad, through which "he had published a number of accounts relating to travelling to and living in Syria with the purpose of fighting jihad with IS".

The court heard how Zafirr Golamaully was joined in March 2015 in Syria by his sister, Lubnaa Golamaully, who had also travelled without her parents' knowledge.

From there she texted her uncle to say her brother had given her a gun.

Golamaully warned her: "You'll need to learn how to use it."

Detectives discovered the Golamaullys' Western Union transfer by chance during a wider investigation into a terrorism funding network in which there were "multiple cash transfers from around the world to Islamic State".

Judge Dhir said the couple's messages showed "a sustained and very real sympathy for the ideology of IS in Syria and their methods".

"Those methods involve killing innocent people in acts of terrorism," she said.

She said in sentencing Nazimabee Golamaully she had taken into account positive things said about her including in letters received from the couple's four young children.

Nazimabee Golamaully's lawyer, Hossein Zahir, said his client was "devastated by her actions... there's remorse in bucket loads".

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