Woman from north west London ‘paid friend to smuggle cash to fund jihadists terrorists’, court hears

Amal El-Wahabi is from north west London (Pic credit: Central News)

Amal El-Wahabi is from north west London (Pic credit: Central News) - Credit: central news

A woman from north west London paid her friend to smuggle cash in her underwear to fund jihadists fighting in Syria, a court has heard.

Amal El-Wahabi, 27, is claimed to have asked Nawal Msaad, also 27, to be a “trusted courier” to take 20,000 euro to Turkey.

The Old Bailey heard the cash was to be delivered at the request of El-Wahabi’s husband Aine Davis - who had joined fighters in Syria.

Msaad, from Holloway, north London, was stopped by police, after the cash which had been hidden inside her in a condom, fell out into her pants.

Both women are on trial at the Old Bailey accused of funding terrorism. They deny the charge.

The prosecutor Mark Dennis, QC, said the women, who were both born in London, had been close friends for years.

Davis left London in July last year to pursue the jihadist cause but had maintained regular contact with his wife, with whom he has two young sons, he said.

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The 30-year-old, who was also born in London with roots in Gambia, converted to Islam six or seven years ago, the court heard.

Mr Dennis said: “It is alleged in this case that the money that the second defendant was attempting to take out to Turkey was money that had been raised in this country and had been destined to support the jihadist cause which Davis was now pursuing with like-minded supporters.

“The allegation in this case is that each defendant, when becoming concerned in the arrangement of the smuggling of this money to Turkey at the behest of Davis, knew of, at the very least had reasonable cause to suspect, that the money was or might be used for the purposes of terrorism.”

Msaad had been studying human resources at London Metropolitan University in Aldgate at the time her friend had allegedly offered her 1,000 euro to be a courier.

On January 16, she set off for Heathrow airport for the three-day trip but when she approached the departure gate she was stopped by police.

After showing her passport, she was asked why she was going to Istanbul.

She replied it was for a “short break” and added that she was buying gold for her mother.

She said she had 20,000 euro “around me”.

Mr Dennis said: “She was then taken to a private room where she pulled out a roll of banknotes from inside her underwear and handed it across to the officers. The banknotes were tightly rolled and were wrapped in cling film.

“It would appear that it would have been further hidden inside her body, wrapped in a condom.”

There were 38 500 euro notes, four 200 euro notes and two 100 euro notes, totalling 20,000 euro.

The court heard how the arrangements were made in the days before in phone calls and WhatsApp messages between El-Wahabi and her husband Davis and her friend Msaad.

The same day Msaad was arrested, police went to El-Wahabi’s home where they seized mobile phones.

In police interviews, Msaad declined to explain the money, and would only say “no comment”.

El-Wahabi gave three short statements to police maintaining that an iPod, Kindle and iPad found at her address belonged to “the father of my children” who was now living in Turkey.

She denied knowledge of any terrorist activities or their funding.

But material recovered from her mobile phone was at odds with her claim not to know about her husband’s active support for the violent jihadist cause, the court heard.

Davis had sent her photos including a “selfie” while he had been away, jurors were told.

There were also videos from Davis to his wife containing jihadist propaganda.

One sent in September last year, showed a “boy martyr” aged between 10 and 13 holding a Kalashnikov rifle, Mr Dennis said.

The court heard that when Davis left, El-Wahabi - who was living on benefits, had been reluctant to follow and leave behind her friends and family.

But by December last year she was coming around to the idea of joining him wherever he was, jurors were told.

The trial continues.