Colchester businessman 'sent $600 to nephew who wanted to be suicide bomber' in Syria

The trial is taking place at the Old Bailey in London. Credit: PA

A self-employed businessman sent more than $600 to his nephew who considered becoming a suicide bomber after he was shot while fighting in Syria, a court has heard.

Farhad Mohammad, 45, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of making five money transfers for Idris Usman in Syria.

At the time, it is alleged Idris was an Islamist fighter, most likely for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a proscribed terrorist organisation linked to Al Qaida.

The prosecution claim that between May 2017 and January 2018, Mohammad made three Western Union transfers of $200 via a middleman in Turkey and two more transactions while he was abroad.

Details surfaced in a Facebook chat found on his mobile phone following his arrest at Stansted Airport in February 2018, the Old Bailey was told.

Opening his trial on Wednesday, prosecutor Diana Wilson said married father-of-two Mohammad was a Kurdish Iraqi who had lived in the UK for many years.

At the time Idris was in Syria, the country was marked by “intense conflict”, she said.

Mohammad, of Osborne Street in Colchester, Essex, denies five counts of funding terrorism.

In one message in May 2017, Idris allegedly told the defendant: “God willing, I am going to participate in a fighting, either I will stay alive or I become a martyr, it is up to God.

“If I became a martyr they will inform you.”

He went on to say he would go on military exercises for 15 days before moving towards the enemy to fight them, jurors heard.

Idris asked for money to buy a second-hand car for “work”, which the prosecution allege was fighting.

He also asked for rent money and $650 to buy a weapon saying “it is the one I like”, the court heard.

It is alleged Idris sent the defendant a photograph of himself on a motorbike with an assault rifle on his back.

On 5 September 2017, Idris allegedly wrote: “I am going to battlefield to fight. Forgive me and put me in your prayer.”

The defendant allegedly replied: “Frankly I do not like you to go. I want you to go back home secretly.”

Idris asked for money for a mobile phone but the defendant said he was in a “bad financial situation”, the court heard.

On 22 September 2017, Idris allegedly told his uncle: “The situation is not good here, please help me. We went to that fighting but we withdrew and nearly 100 brothers were killed.

“When we entered with the group, four of my brothers were killed at once and we could not bring their corpses back.”

He went on to make five further requests for money which the defendant occasionally responded to, usually evading the demands, Ms Wilson said.

On 28 October 2017 Idris allegedly revealed that he had been wounded in his arms and then asked the defendant for money for hospital fees.

Jurors heard Idris said that he had seen a doctor and one arm was broken and a bullet had settled in the other arm in a sensitive place.

He made repeated requests for more money for housing and to pay for an operation, the court heard.

On 13 November 2017, he allegedly told the defendant: “Peace be upon you uncle. Uncle, I have changed my mind regarding suicide bombing, I’m not going to be a suicide bomber.”

Instead, he told his uncle that he was going to a military camp, the court was told.

Ms Wilson told jurors: “The Crown will assert that the reference to suicide bombing assists you as to the type of fighter he (the defendant) understood Idris to be.”

Mohammad was arrested on 28 February 2018 on a flight from Stansted Airport to Turkey.

In a police interview, the defendant denied funding terrorism, saying in a prepared statement: “I have been living in the UK for 21 years.

“I am a married man with two children, and I am running my own business. I do not have any previous convictions. The allegations have nothing to do with me.”

Ms Wilson told jurors: “Despite what the defendant said in his interviews it is likely that he will accept making all five arrangements for money to be made available to his nephew Idris and that the focus of this trial will be whether he did so knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect that it – the money – would or might be used for the purposes of terrorism.”

The Old Bailey trial continues.

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