ISIS "Barber Funder"
A warm welcome to our new Insight Intelligence subscribers! Last week we crossed the 3k subscriber threshold, and I have to say, I’m rather pleased that so many people find this newsletter interesting and useful. Thank you to all who have joined us, and who share this newsletter! This week, we’re taking a look at a terrorist financing case from the UK. We normally focus on terrorist attack financing, or terrorist organization financing. This case is a bit different, because it involves a terrorist financier: someone whose purpose and goal is to provide funds for terrorist activity. Let’s dig in.
At the beginning of January, a Barber shop owner in the UK (Tarek Namouz) was jailed for using COVID grants to fund terrorism. He received a 12 year sentence for sending funds he received from COVID relief to Islamic State terrorists in Syria. At the time of the offence, he was on licence for raping a woman. The funds were sent through a currency exchange in West London. The investigation found transfers totalling £11,284.69, but he claimed to have sent £25,000 to an Islamic State member to purchase sniper rifles and prepare for an attack against the Syrian government. As part of his defence, he claimed to have sent the funds to help the “poor and needy” in Syria. The funds transfers were coordinated through WhatsApp messages. He regularly deleted the messages as part of his operational security. He sent the funds in seven transfers over the course of months, starting with a small transfer of £100, before increasing the transfers to between £1,500 and £2,700 at a time.
There are a number of things that are interesting in this case that are worth highlighting because they speak to broader trends in terrorist financing and efforts to detect and disrupt it: the currency exchange, the amounts sent, coordinating on WhatsApp, and the ‘cover story’.