A former pub owner turned barbershop owner sent £25,000 to ISIS fighters in Syria for weapons after claiming thousands of pounds in taxpayer-funded Covid grants, a court has heard today.
Tarek Namouz, 43, from west London, had received government money to help his business, Boss Crew Barbers, during the Covid 19 pandemic, and was living in a flat on the third floor above the shop.
The former pub owner has been accused of boasting that the terrorists he is allegedly funding have “incinerators like Hitler.” In WhatsApp messages read to the court, he also allegedly said: “I want to burn Christianity, we have incinerators and holocausts like Hitler, a lesson from history.”
He is accused of sending money on at least seven different dates between November 2020 and April 2021 that was intended to fund a militia in Syria.
John McGuinness KC, Prosecutor, told the jury, “You may recall that the Covid pandemic was very much in progress in 2020 and 2021. The defendant periodically received a Covid grant from his local authority, Hammersmith and Fulham.”
When police raided the barbershop in Blythe Road, Olympia, they found cash and a hidden mobile phone with messages to a contact in Syria, a video of ISIS making bombs and a video showing how to deal with a knife should kill.
In the months leading up to his arrest, he transferred money using Trust Money Transfers on Edgware Road and sent it to Syria, where he lived until he was 14.
Tarek Namouz appears today at Kingston Crown Court. He denies sending thousands of pounds in coronavirus bounceback loans to fund the terror group Isis
Mr McGuinness told the Kingston Crown Court jury: ‘He usually gave cash to the agency which would be converted into Syrian pounds and sent as cash abroad’, where it was received by a man named Yahya Ahmed Alia.
The former pub owner boasted in a WhatsApp exchange with Mr Alia that the terrorists he is accused of have ‘incinerators like Hitler’, the court heard.
He is said to have said, “I want to burn Christianity, we have incinerators and holocausts like Hitler, a lesson from history” in an Arab exchange who discovered the app on his Samsung phone.
Mr Alia replied ‘Shiites, Alawites and Druze’, to which Namouz reportedly said ‘100 percent’.
The pair also expressed plans to kill non-believers, behead opponents, carry out public executions in the streets and display bodies after an expected victory in a battle for control of the capital Damascus, the trial said. .
In an exchange, Namouz is said to have written: “We will take control of all people by force and by the rule of Sharia.
‘Whoever is not happy can get lost/he can leave.
Later in the exchange, he speaks of “slapping the necks” and “slaughter with the knife.”
He then says, ‘I swear by Allah that we will cause chaos’ and ‘kill the infidels’.
In the exchanges, Mr. Alia said, ‘Whoever is not happy, a bullet in the head, I don’t want even one person alive who is against Sharia’.
Mr Alia also told him ‘we are in an excellent situation now’ after buying Kalashnikovs and a pistol to which Namouz is said to have replied ‘great, bless’.
Officers identified seven transfers between November 2020 and April 2021, totaling approximately £11,280.
Namouz, 43, from West London, had received government money to help his business, Boss Crew Barbers, during the Covid-19 pandemic, and was living in a third floor flat above the shop.
“The prosecution says that the seven amounts mentioned are not the only money that was disbursed, but that other money was also transferred for which the prosecution has no record,” McGuinness said.
During a wiretapped conversation in August 2021 with a friend who visited him in prison after his arrest, Namouz reportedly said that police were aware of some of the transfers, but were unaware that he had made more, and referred he to sending £25,000 to the same man in Syria.
A Samsung Galaxy 10 mobile phone was found under a bottom drawer during a police raid on Namouz’s barber shop on May 25 last year.
At about 7 a.m., while some officers were still in the defendant’s flat, they heard the sound of an alarm or a mobile phone ringing accompanied by a vibrating sound, the sound as if it had been set to wake you up in the morning wake up, Mr. McGuinness told the jury.
“There was a four-drawer chest of drawers in the bedroom of the flat. When they lifted out the bottom drawer, in the alcove under the drawer, they found a Samsung Galaxy 10 phone and a set of keys next to it.’
In the top drawer, the officers found a sum of £3,170.
On the phone, officers found messages through the encrypted Whatsapp forum that showed Namouz had “the same mindset” as Alia, McGuinness said.
The men were “both committed to the Islamist extremist culture of Islamic State and the reason he sent money to Ahmed was for terrorism, to promote terrorism in Syria.”
The messages included references to tracts of land and the use of the money to purchase or build a building that would be used to sell food and for “terrorist purposes,” McGuinness said.
There was “rumour of people occupying the building that the prosecutor says were Islamic State fighters, and of storage of weapons,” he added.
The phone also had the encrypted Telegram app used to receive ISIS propaganda and instructional materials, including a video showing how to make explosives and another showing an ISIS fighter demonstrating killing techniques with a knife.
Namouz does not dispute that he made the transfers, but initially claimed he had sent money to help the “poor and needy” in Syria, the jury was told.
When he was questioned by the police for the second time a few months later, he told the police that he had wanted to retire in Syria and that he had sent money to buy a piece of land and that he was going to build an apartment building on the , as well as having a farm on another piece of land.
“The prosecution says that what the defendant told police about the reason for sending the money was not true,” McGuinness said.
The process continues.