UK & World News
Student Cleared Of Knickers Plot For Jihadists
A 27-year-old woman who tried to smuggle cash in her knickers on a flight to Turkey has been cleared of funding jihadists in Syria.
Nawal Msaad tried to take ?20,000 (£15,830) in rolled-up notes on a flight from Heathrow to Istanbul in January, the Old Bailey heard.
She did it for her friend Amal El-Wahabi, 27, whose husband Aine Davis, 30, asked for the money, after leaving Britain to join jihadists in Syria last year.
The plot failed when she was stopped at the departure gate and produced the cash, which had been hidden in a condom, from her underwear.
Ms Msaad, from Holloway, north London, and El-Wahabi, from northwest London, both denied making money available with "reasonable cause to suspect that it would or may be used for the purposes of terrorism".
The jury cleared Ms Msaad but convicted mother-of-two El-Wahabi after deliberating for five days.
El-Wahabi is the first Briton to be convicted under terror laws of funding jihadi fighters in Syria.
She wept in the dock as the jury returned its guilty verdict, saying: "I can't breathe, no, I can't breathe."
The pair are London-born of Moroccan descent and had been close friends for years, the court heard.
Ms Msaad, who had been studying human resources at London Metropolitan University, agreed to take the money in return for ?1,000 in expenses, jurors were told.
When she was stopped at the departure gate, she said the three-day trip to Istanbul was a "short break" to buy gold for her mother.
She was taken into a private room and produced the cash from her underwear.
The smuggling arrangements were made days before in phone calls and WhatsApp messages between El-Wahabi and her husband and Ms Msaad.
The same day Ms Msaad was arrested, police seized mobile phones and computer equipment from El-Wahabi's home.
Davis, who used the Muslim name Hamza, kept in regular contact with El-Wahabi after leaving London to pursue a jihadist cause.
After six months, El-Wahabi, who was living on benefits, was coming round to the idea of joining him wherever he was, the court heard.
The jury was shown a "selfie" Davis sent her, as well as videos containing jihadist propaganda.
El-Wahabi denied knowledge of any terrorist activities or their funding.
When Ms Msaad went into the witness box, she accused El-Wahabi of "stitching" her up by not telling her where the money came from.
She insisted she had never meant to smuggle cash abroad to bankroll terrorism.
Davis, who was born in London with roots in Gambia, met El-Wahabi at a local mosque and became increasingly interested in Islam six or seven years ago, the court heard.
His current whereabouts are unknown. El-Wahabi will be sentenced on September 12.