Syria fighter 'wanted to get away'

Hillingdon Times: Amal El-Wahabi allegedly asked her friend to take cash to Turkey Amal El-Wahabi allegedly asked her friend to take cash to Turkey

A young woman accused of arranging to send 20,000 euro (£25,000) for her husband fighting in Syria told a court that he would leave the country to get away from police, drugs and bad influences.

Amal El-Wahabi, 27, allegedly asked her friend Nawal Msaad, also 27, to be a trusted courier and take the cash to Turkey at the request of Aine Davis, who she knew by his Muslim name Hamza.

But Msaad was stopped by police at Heathrow in January before she boarded a flight. She handed over the rolled up notes hidden in her knickers, a court has heard.

Msaad, of Holloway, north London, and El-Wahabi, of north west London, are on trial at the Old Bailey accused of funding terrorism. They deny the charge.

Giving evidence in the witness box, mother-of-two El-Wahabi, said she met Hamza, 30, while she was working in the nursery at her local mosque when she was 19.

Hamza was selling cannabis and class A drugs and had also fathered two children by another woman, she said.

El-Wahabi told the court: "My dad picked up the idea he has money and did not know where the money came from."

When her parents found out he was a drug dealer she had to choose between Hamza and her parents, she said.

The defendant, who was born in London with Moroccan roots, said she was very close to her family.

But she said: "I stayed with him because he was always there for me and he has helped me so much."

The court heard how the couple split up for a long period and Hamza had travelled abroad to countries including Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, she said.

El-Wahabi's lawyer Mark Summers asked: "He is somebody who is happy to be living in London?"

She replied: "Not at all. The drugs, the influence of friends he has around him, the police targeting him constantly. With him, his problem is he is always being watched."

Asked why he travelled so much, she said: "To get away from everyone and to look for work."

While he was away, she said: "(He is) much happier because he has not got everyone on his back, he is not influenced by friends and family. He believed when he is away he is more himself.

"He believed if you die doing good, you go to heaven."

She told the court he only told her the night before that he was leaving on July 28 last year, although she had been suspicious.

El-Wahabi said she had known her co-defendant Msaad from the age of 13 as they went to school together.

The trial continues.

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