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Jihadi's uncle facing jail after smuggling money for nephew to buy gun

The uncle of a jihadi fighter is facing jail after infiltrating Syria-bound aid convoys to smuggle £4,500 to help his nephew buy a gun.

Syed Hoque was found guilty of two charges of funding terrorism while his "fixer" Mashoud Miah was convicted on one count by a majority following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Two co-defendants were cleared of involvement including Pervez Rafiq, a prominent charity fundraiser who counted tragic aid worker Alan Henning as a colleague and friend.

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC told jurors the aid convoys were used "as a means of moving money and other property out of the UK to Syria".

She said: ''Normal routes are not much use when you look at Syria. So if you do want to get property or money out to Syria, the convoys would have provided a useful conduit.

"And you may think that an abuse of the spirit of the convoys to convey the money and property to terrorists.''

The court had heard how former probation officer Hoque sent £4,500 to his nephew who was fighting with an al Qaida-linked group in Syria.

In incriminating WhatsApp exchanges, Hoque's nephew, Mohammed Choudhury, 26, begged for money to buy a Dragunov sniper rifle.

Hoque was put in touch with gas engineer "fixer" Miah, who travelled to and from Syria with aid convoys in 2012 and 2013.

Miah, who was convicted of helping Hoque get £1,500 to Syria, was cleared of a further charge over an alleged plot to create a "night team" in Syria.

He was accused of drawing u p a list of the equipment needed and delegating the job of sourcing much of it to Mr Rafiq and Mohammed Hussain, who was also cleared.

Hoque, 37, of Stoke-on-Trent, Miah, 28, of east London, Mr Hussain, 30, of east London, and Mr Rafiq, 46, of Birkby, Huddersfield, denied the charges against them.

Giving evidence, Hoque admitted sending money to his nephew via Miah because he was fighting ''in defence of those who cannot defend themselves''. But he denied knowing his nephew was with an al Qaida-linked group.

Miah told jurors the Syrian people needed help and "had every right to be defended".

Following his arrest, Mr Rafiq said he had gone on a convoy with Mr Henning, of Salford, Greater Manchester, who was taken hostage and beheaded by IS killer Jihadi John in 2014.

Giving evidence, he said he had not been back to Syria since December 2013 because of threats against him by IS and other extremists over Mr Henning.

He told jurors: "I was trying to save the life of a non-believer. He was not a Muslim."

The aid worker was also wooed by MI5 and raised £200,000 for charity, jurors were told.

The court heard that MI5 had offered Mr Rafiq £30,000 to do work for the secret services and had always co-operated with authorities who searched convoys on their way out and stopped him on the way back to the UK.

Judge John Bevan QC refused a request for married father-of-four Hoque to be granted continued bail to put his affairs in order.

He remanded both defendants in custody and adjourned sentencing until January 13.

Detective Chief Superintendent Clive Wain, head of the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, said: "These men utilised aid convoys on a number of occasions as a cover for their support of terrorism in Syria"

"This was a complex, difficult case. The CT network will not tolerate any support for terrorist activity overseas and the abuse of charities intended to provide humanitarian support to those suffering as a result of the crisis.

"Together with policing colleagues and other partner agencies, we are resolved to bring those who commit such offences to justice."

Commander Dean Haydon, MPS Counter Terrorism Command said: "I welcome the verdict today, the jury heard how the aid convoys were infiltrated and money and goods taken out to Syria to support terrorists.

"These actions risk undermining genuine efforts by the public to help those suffering in the Syrian crisis."

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