London barber who received Covid grants sent £25k to IS fighter, court told | British news

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A hairdresser who received taxpayer-funded Covid grants allegedly sent £25,000 to an Islamic State fighter in Syria, a court heard.

Tarek Namouz, 43, is accused of making at least seven transfers to Yahya Ahmed Alia between November 2020 and May 2021 so Alia could buy weapons and explosives to carry out terrorist attacks in Syria.

The pair conspired over WhatsApp to buy sniper rifles and Kalashnikovs, slaughter “non-believers” and stage public executions, Kingston Crown Court heard.

Namouz, who ran Boss Crew Barbers in Hammersmith, west London, received grants under a scheme launched during Britain’s first coronavirus lockdown.

The prosecutor, John McGuinness KC, told the jury: “You may recall that the Covid pandemic was very much ongoing in 2020 and 2021. You will see that the defendant was periodically receiving Covid support from his local authority, Hammersmith and Fulham Council .

“A theme that runs through the WhatsApp exchanges that the defendant had with Yahya Ahmed Alia is that they were both committed to the Islamic extremist culture, that they were both committed to, or certainly fervently supported, the culture of the Islamic State, and that the reason the defendant sent or had sent money from the UK to Syria, to Yahya Ahmed Alia, was for the purposes of terrorism.”

Namouz denies eight counts of financing terrorism between November 30, 2020 and May 25, 2021. He also denies two counts of possessing terrorist information, in the form of two videos found on a phone. The videos, downloaded from the encrypted messaging app Telegram, detailed instructions for making bombs and murder techniques using a knife, the court heard.

Police raided Boss Crew Barbers on 25 May 2021 and arrested Namouz. They found a Samsung Galaxy 10 phone hidden under a chest of drawers in the defendant’s bedroom and £3,170 in cash. In a police interview, Namouz claimed the money was from the government’s Covid grant and his work as a barber.

Namouz’s phone contained IS propaganda material and his WhatsApp conversations with Alia were conducted between May 15 and the day of the raid. The prosecution alleges that Namouz had deleted previous messages.

McGuinness said: “The tenor of these messages is such that it is clear that the two people communicating are of the same mindset, that they are committed to fighting the Islamic State, [and] engaged in the cause of terrorism.”

Namouz’s messages to Alia were read to the jury. They included a text on May 17, 2021 that said: “I want to burn Christianity. We have incinerators like Hitler. A lesson from history.”

On May 21, 2021, referring to an attack in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Namouz said: “We will take control of all people by force and by governing Sharia law [sic].” He said any opponent would suffer “slaughter with the knife.” “I swear by Allah, we will create chaos,” he wrote, adding: “Kill the non-believers.”

It is alleged that Namouz transferred £11,284.69 over seven transactions to Alia in Damascus between November 2020 and April 2021. The prosecution claims Namouz sent more money because he told a friend who visited him in prison after his arrest that he had transferred £25,000. Total. The prosecution has not found any records of the extra funds.

Namouz’s conversation with the friend who visited him in prison in August 2021 was recorded, the prosecutor said. Namouz told the visitor: “I have made a transfer of 25k but in here [the police] they knew that the amount is only 10,000.

He said his “friend” had bought snipers and bombs with the money, adding: “We were preparing for an attack and I wanted to join him.”

Namouz is said to have used a money transfer agency in Shepherd’s Bush where he handed over pounds sterling that would be converted into Syrian pounds and sent to Alia.

In police interviews, Namouz admitted to sending money to Syria but denied it was to finance terrorism. He told detectives he wanted to help the poor and needy, and he later claimed he wanted to retire to Syria, the country of his birth. He said he had used the money to buy a plot of land.

The trial continues and is expected to last two weeks.

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