Wife sentenced over Syria cash plot

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Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A young mother who became the first Briton to be convicted of funding jihadists in Syria faces jail when she is sentenced today.

Amal El-Wahabi, 27, hoodwinked an old school friend into agreeing to take 20,000 euros (£15,830) in cash to Turkey for her husband Aine Davis, a drug dealer who went to Syria to fight in July last year.

The plan was scuppered when Nawal Msaad, also 27, was stopped at Heathrow before boarding a flight to Istanbul and produced the rolled up notes from her underwear.

Msaad, of Holloway, north London, and El-Wahabi, of north-west London, had denied the charge of making money available with “reasonable cause to suspect that it would or may be used for the purposes of terrorism”.

Following an Old Bailey trial, a jury found mother-of-two El-Wahabi guilty but cleared Msaad.

Trial judge Nicholas Hilliard QC had warned El-Wahabi, who is London-born of Moroccan descent, that an immediate custodial sentence was inevitable, although he said she was in a “completely different category” to her husband.

He told her: “This was a substantial amount of money destined on the evidence straight to the hands of a dangerous extremist who was engaged in violent jihad with all the terror and misery that causes.”

She was remanded in custody ahead of today’s sentencing at the Old Bailey.

During the trial, jurors were told how Davis, 30, who was born in London with roots in Gambia, met El-Wahabi at a London mosque and become increasingly interested in Islam six or seven years ago.

He left the UK to pursue a jihadist cause in July last year, leaving El-Wahabi and her two young children to live off benefits in London.

The couple stayed in touch through Skype messages and by December last year El-Wahabi had resolved to join him.

In January, she made the arrangements for Msaad to take the cash to Istanbul in a series of phone calls and messages.

Msaad, who had been studying human resources at London Metropolitan University, agreed to take the cash on the promise of 1,000 euros in expenses, jurors heard.

When she was stopped at the departure gate on January 16 she said the three-day trip to Istanbul was a “short break” to buy gold for her mother.

She was taken into a private room where she produced 38 500 euro notes, four 200 euro notes and two 100 euro notes from her underwear.

In her defence, Msaad said she had been “stitched up” by her friend and she had not intended to fund jihad in Syria.

El-Wahabi denied that her partner, known as Hamza, was in Syria and claimed he was in various countries abroad looking for work.

But the prosecution produced a “selfie” Davis had sent her while he was away, as well as videos containing jihadist propaganda found on computers seized from her home.

Prosecutor Mark Dennis QC said: “It is plain from images that he had sent to her that Davis had fulfilled his desire and was now with jihadist fighters and was supporting the familiar black flag adopted by the extremist jihadist terrorist groups in various countries in that troubled part of the world.”

Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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