(Bloomberg) -- A London barber who received UK pandemic aid is accused of funneling more than £11,000 ($13,345) to help the Islamic State militant group buy weapons.
Tarek Namouz sent the funds to an alleged former IS fighter in Syria between 2020 and 2021, a prosecution lawyer said in court on Thursday. Namouz, who denies the charges, was receiving Covid-19 aid from the government around the same time, the lawyer said.
The case throws the spotlight on how some of the funds meant to help small businesses during the pandemic were also subject to alleged misuse -- sparking outrage in the UK. The national auditor last year estimated as much as £4.9 billion, out of the total £47 billion funds in support for businesses during the pandemic, was exposed to fraud.
During the probe, Namouz said he didn’t know the money was used for terror purposes and he wanted to help the poor in Syria, John McGuinness, the prosecution’s lawyer, told the jury.
But in text messages over mobile phone in May 2021, Namouz and the alleged terrorist in Syria discussed using money “to buy arms and manufacturing,” according to McGuinness.
Referring to £3,000 cash recovered from his house at the time of his arrest, Namouz said he mixed money he earned from the barber shop and the government’s assistance, McGuinness said.
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