R v Shabbir Ali 2012
- Shabir and Shafiq Ali, 25, imitated legitimate Muslim Aid fundraisers on street stalls
- Money instead went towards funding their older brother’s terrorist activities in Somalia
PUBLISHED: 15:14, 1 August 2012 | UPDATED: 01:56, 2 August 2012
Identical twin brothers who posed as charity collectors to raise thousands of pounds for overseas Al-Qaeda fighters were jailed yesterday.
Shabir and Shafiq Ali, 25, imitated legitimate fundraisers on street stalls collecting money for Palestinians and the worldâ€™s poor.
But the pair were in fact wiring money to their elder brother after he travelled to Somalia to join the bloody Islamic insurgency.
They were caught out after counter terrorism police raided their home and discovered a digital recording of a phone conversation with him.
The brothers had kept the encounter as a final memento as they expected he would soon be killed in the fierce fighting.
Sentencing them at the Old Bailey to three years in prison, Mr Justice Fulford said the men sent at least Â£3,000 to the Horn of Africa.
He said their brother was determined to sacrifice his life alongside others fighting to create an â€˜Islamic Emirate of Somaliaâ€™
They were inspired by Al-Qaeda hate preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki, the mastermind behind a series of bomb attacks who was killed in a drone strike last year.
The judge added: â€˜Both defendants worked to help somebody who was contributing to terrorist activities in a war-torn country in Africa.
â€˜The court must reflect the seriousness of offences of this kind in sentences given that they were intended to support terrorism.â€™
The Ali brothers, dressed in different coloured suits by prison staff so they could be identified, showed no emotion as they were jailed.
At an earlier hearing one lawyer was caught on a video link confessing that he could not recognise his own client.
The wife of Shafiq, a former doorman who worked for Transport for London as a security guard at the time of his arrest, is expecting their first child in October.
Shabir, a father of three children aged under five, was undertaking a training course to allow him to work as a teaching assistant when his activities were uncovered.
The court heard the fundraising plot was led by Shabaaz Hussain, 28, who was jailed for more than five years in March after sending Â£9,000 to the fighters.
Police searched the brotherâ€™s home in Tower Hamlets, East London, after bugging Hussainâ€™s car and catching them discussing the conspiracy.
They uncovered extremist literature, including a pamphlet by Al-Awlaki, entitled â€˜44 Ways To Support Jihad.â€™
But it took several more months for investigators to discover a digital computer file containing the phone conversation with their brother Shamim, 29.
He had flown to Somalia via Nairobi and Dubai in August 2008 to train alongside other jihadists in weapons, combat and survival.
Several days later the elder sibling boasted in a telephone call about how he was prepared to die as his brothers expressed concern for his welfare in the hot and lawless land.
Prosecutor Timothy Cray said: â€˜He relates to them the rigours of the training camp and the dedication of the trainers, who he describes as brothers, in training them to fight,â€™ said Mr Cray.
â€˜Details of the particular fighting are given, including training using guns and automatic weapons, such as Kalashnikovs.
â€˜Itâ€™s clear from what their sister said that the recording was made by the family as they believed this would be the last time they would speak to their brother.
â€˜No doubt they wanted to have a recording of a loved sibling.â€™
Shamim, who left Britain with two other men, has not been heard from since and the return parts of the trioâ€™s air tickets have never been used.
The twins were also caught discussing a figure they referred to as â€˜Brother Hamzaâ€™, who gave them detailed instructions on raising cash.
They posed as collectors for Muslim Aid, a huge charity that works to help the worldâ€™s poor, and supporters of Palestinian causes.
However the money was channelled to their brother in Somalia via wire transfers that were authenticated with mobile phone numbers, although some was stolen.
Mr Cray said: â€˜The Crownâ€™s case against these defendants is that terrorist training abroad depends on a network of supporters – and these defendants were part of that network.â€™
Barristers for the brothers said their elder sibling was mentally ill and they care for their mother who suffers from depression and schizophrenia.
They claimed the pair had been driven by concern for their brother and did not intend for the money to fall in to terrorist hands.