‘Barber shop owner sent £25k to Islamic state fighters’ after Covid grants, court hears

A former barber shop owner is accused of sending £25,000 to Islamic State fighters in Syria after claiming coronavirus grants from the local council, a court has heard. The court heard that Tarek Namouz send the funds via a money transfer bureau between November 2020 and May 2021 to organise terror attacks against “non-believers” in Syria.

During the pandemic, the 43-year-old received relief from Hammersmith and Fulham Council to help run his barber shop, Boss Crew Barbers, in Blythe Road, Hammersmith. Kingston Crown Court heard that all identifiable transfers, totaling about £11,280, were sent to Yahya Ahmed Alia in Syria. He denies the charges. 

Namouz doesn’t dispute the transfers but denies knowing the money would be used for terrorism.

Police first raided the flat on May 25, 2021 to arrest Namouz. 

John McGuinness KC, prosecuting told the court that messages showed that both Namouz and Alia were “committed to the Islamic extremist culture”, “fervently supported the culture of IS” and were “committed to the cause of terrorism”.

He told jurors the pair conversed about buying a building for “storing weapons” and occupying it with “IS fighters”.

Jurors heard that Namouz had been deleting his messages regularly so police were only able to recover texts sent between May 15 2021 and his arrest 10 days later.

During one conversation the court heard, Namouz told Alia on WhatsApp: “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.”

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

The court heard that he also sent messages about killing the “big heads” in “public execution”.

Files downloaded from Telegram on the phone also contained IS propaganda including one video showing IS fighter demonstrating assassination techniques using a knife.

During one police interview, Namouz told officers he had sent the money to “help… the poor and needy in Syria”, the court heard.

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

The trial continues.