The face of Colchester man who helped fund terrorist fighter in Syria

Farhad Mohammad, 45, of Colchester has been convicted after a trial at the Old Bailey
Farhad Mohammad, 45, of Colchester has been convicted after a trial at the Old Bailey -Credit:Met Police

A Colchester man who sent money to a family member knowing it was used to fund their terrorist fighting has been convicted. Farhad Mohammad, 45, was found to have arranged for $350 over two payments to be sent to his nephew Idris Usman.

The investigation, by the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, also uncovered that Usman was fighting in Syria at the time for the terrorist group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, an alternative name for the terror group Al Qa'ida.

Mohammad was found guilty of two terrorism funding offences after a ten-day trial that ended on April 26 at the Old Bailey. During the trial, counter terrorism investigators presented evidence showing Mohammad made two payments to his nephew in the space of three months between November 2017 and January 2018 with the knowledge that his nephew was fighting for an Islamist terrorist group in Syria at the time.

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One of the messages found by officers on Mohammad’s phone from his nephew in May 2017 read: “Uncle forgive me, 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".

The investigation was taken on by specialist investigators within the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit, which is based within the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. Detectives identified that the money, which was sent between November 2017 and January 2018, was transferred via a third-party to Usman.

As a result of meticulous investigative work, Counter Terrorism officers were able to prove that Mohammad was fully aware that the money he was sending was supporting his nephew’s terrorist activities.

Another example of a message found by officers from Usman to Mohammad in June 2017, indicating he was aware of his terrorist activities read: “Uncle for the sake of God send me six and a half waraqa ($650), to buy a weapon, it is the one, which I like it, and may God reward you with good.”

Also among the messages sent from Usman to his Uncle was an image sent in August 2017 showing Usman sat on a motorbike with a gun over his shoulder. Commander Dominic Murphy, who leads the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: "Terrorist groups rely on financial support and funding to be able to operate.

"While Mohammad’s contributions may not have been vast sums, he was well aware his nephew wanted the money to purchase a firearm and to help fund his fighting in Syria. Groups like Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham cause huge misery, terror and devastation. If you knowingly fund someone - family member or not - who is part of a group like that, then it is helping a terrorist organisation and it is something we take extremely seriously."

Arrested at Stansted Airport

Mohammad planned to travel to Turkey from London Stansted Airport on February 27, 2018. Before he boarded the flight, he was stopped by officers.

Officers found he had over £4,000 of cash, and three mobile phones - all of which were seized and the contents downloaded by officers, with Mohammad subsequently arrested. Detectives recovered messaging app conversations and voice notes, which, after careful piecing together, officers were able to use to produce a timeline of detailing his conversations and fund transfers.

Commander Murphy added: “The use of counter terrorism powers by officers at the airport were crucial in discovering how Mohammad was knowingly funding his nephew’s terrorist activities in Syria. And it was the specialist skills of officers within our National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit which helped pinpoint the transactions that led to this prosecution.

"Anyone who might be considering providing financial support to terrorists or terrorist organisations should think twice, as it is a serious offence and, as we’ve shown here, we will investigate those who are involved in this kind of activity."

Mohammad was found guilty of two counts of terrorist funding. He was found not guilty on two other counts terrorist fundraising – linked to alleged payments made in May and August 2017. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in respect of a fifth count of terrorist fundraising, relating to an alleged payment made in October 2017. This count will lie on file..

He is due to be sentenced on June 20.

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