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Syria cash plot mother jailed

An "infatuated" young mother who tried to send cash to her jihadi husband has been jailed for more than two years after becoming the first person to be convicted of funding terrorism in Syria.

Amal El-Wahabi, 28, hoodwinked an old school friend into agreeing to take 20,000 euro (£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 foiled when Nawal Msaad, 27, was stopped at Heathrow before boarding a flight to Istanbul and produced the rolled up notes from her underwear.

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" but was convicted following an Old Bailey trial. Msaad, of Holloway, north London, was cleared.

Jailing El-Wahabi for 28 months and seven days, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC said it was clear that Davis had gone to Syria to fight under the black flag of Isis in July last year and that he was preoccupied with martyrdom.

Davis's WhatsApp profile picture showing him brandishing an automatic weapon was a "particularly shocking image", he said.

He told El-Wahabi: "I am satisfied that the initiative for this offence must have come from Aine Davis and you committed it because you were infatuated with him and thought he might provide for you and your two children.

"You even contemplated taking your children to Turkey to be nearer their father, when it should have been obvious to you it was in their interests they should be as far away from him as possible.

"He had no true regard for you. Any interest he had in you was only engaged when there was some advantage to him."

He added: "You have two children aged five and 17 months or so, to whom you are devoted. Your children are the innocent victims of the offence you have committed and indirectly victims of what Aine Davis was engaged in. They are entirely blameless."

Earlier in mitigation, defence lawyer Mark Summers QC had asked the judge for a suspended sentence because of the effect on the defendant's two children and the absence of any terrorist ambition on her part.

Davis put her under pressure and had kept up the "constant threat" that he would end their marriage and take a second wife in Syria, he said.

But prosecutor Kate Wilkinson said El-Wahabi's support for Davis had not just been to try to send him money.

Her encouragement for his terrorist activities was illustrated by a message she sent him about going on convoy, saying: "When does your next adventure start? I'm sure you will enjoy it. It will be good for your body and soul."

The lawyer added: "The Crown should not ignore the fact Isis' aim had always been to establish an Islamic state. Isis has grown into the power and strength it is now because of the efforts made to support it."

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, who was London-born of Moroccan decent, 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 euro (£790) in expenses, jurors heard.

But when she was stopped at the departure gate on January 16 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.

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