London: Barber ‘sent £25,000 to IS fighters in Syria’ after getting Covid grant

Tarek Namouz, 43, has denied knowing the money would be used for terrorism (Picture: REX)

A former barber used money from his Covid relief grant to fund Islamic State fighters in Syria, a court has heard.

Tarek Namouz had received thousands of pounds from Hammersmith and Fulham Council, west London, during the pandemic.

Instead of using the payment to support his struggling business, the 43-year-old wanted to buy a building for ‘storing weapons’ and occupy it with ‘IS fighters’.

Kingston Crown Court was told that he sent as much as £25,000 to organise terror attacks against ‘non-believers’ in the war-torn country.

All identifiable transfers, totalling about £11,280, were sent to Yahya Ahmed Alia between November 2020 and May 2021.

But jurors heard that Namouz told a visitor while behind bars he had transferred more than double that amount.

Prosecutor John McGuinness KC said analysis of one of his phones showed he was in ‘regular WhatsApp communication’ with Alia.

He was arrested in May 2021 on suspicion of fundraising for terrorist purposes (Picture: SWNS)

Texts showed the pair were ‘committed to the Islamic extremist culture’, ‘fervently supported the culture of IS’ and were ‘committed to the cause of terrorism.

‘I shall supply the funds… and you deal with the required purchases including buying weapons and planning on the ground, making war plans and providing equipment,’ one of them read.

On the same day, Namouz said he wanted to ‘burn’ Christianity, adding that he had ‘incinerators like Hitler’, jurors were told.

Four days later, he told Alia that whoever was unhappy with them taking control of ‘all people by force’ would suffer ‘striking the necks’ and ‘slaughtering with the knife’, adding ‘kill the non-believers’.

Another message suggested the two make ‘sniping guns with a shooting calibre of Kalashnikovs’ before taking Damascus back ‘from the invaders’.

He lived in the flat above his barber shop in Hammersmith (Picture: Google)

He also sent messages about killing the ‘big heads’ in ‘public execution’, jurors heard.

Further analysis of his telegram account showed Namouz had been learning how to prepare explosive substances and create improvised explosive devices.

His versions as to why he sent the money to Syria keep changing, but he denies knowing the money would be used for terrorism.

During one police interview, he told officers he had sent the money to ‘help… the poor and needy’, the court heard.

In another, Namouz said he wanted to retire in Syria and sent the money over to buy land.

Police raided his flat above his shop, Boss Crew Barbers, in Blythe Road, in May last year.

He was arrested on suspicion of fundraising for terrorist purposes.

Namouz denies eight counts of entering into a funding arrangement between November 2020 and May 2021 and two counts of possessing terrorist information in May 2021.

The trial continues.

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