Taxpayers’ own money is being used against them, as the government doles it out in benefits to fraudulent claimers who use it to fund terrorism, the metropolitan police’s counter terrorism unit has revealed.
Assistant Commissioner Terri Nicholson said terrorists were becoming ever more “innovative” in their attempts to smuggle much needed cash to their colleagues abroad in places like Syria and Iraq. She said as well as engaging in complex fraud, terror funding gangs often used women to smuggle large amounts of money abroad in the belief they were less likely to arouse suspicion.
Nicholson said: “We are seeing a diverse fraud, including substantial fraud online, abuse of the benefits system, abuse of student loans, in order to fund terrorism”. One apparently growing form of fraud is through the taking out of student loans, finance offered by the government for mass university education. Nicholson reported there were “a number of cases”, each one which could have netted terror gangs tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money.
The revelation came as part of ‘National Counter-Terrorism Awareness Week’.
Although the groups were proving adept at taking taxpayer money, the Assistant Commissioner also highlighted that a number of charities were also being used as fronts for terrorist fund-raising, and well meaning members of the public were being duped into donating. She called on people to be vigilant to prevent charitable funds reaching “undesirable individuals”.
This is not the first time the fidelity of charities collecting money for Syria has been questioned. William Shawcross, the head of the charities commission admitted in November that he would deal ‘robustly’ with charities found to be breaking the law. His words came after doubts arose over the work of a charity which took murdered British hostage Alan Henning to Syria. The director of the charity, Al-Fatiha global has been photographed posing with an assault rifle with known terrorists.
A spokesman for the anti-extremist think-tank the Quilliam foundation has said that half of all donations to Syria end up in the hands of terrorists, not those most in need.
The Daily Telegraph reported the words of Conservative MP Philip Davies said: “I know the Government has been cracking down on benefit fraud. It seems to me that this shows that if anything, they need to go further.
“It is sickening to think that [UK money is funding terror plots] but whenever there is any money being doled out, it’s obvious that terrorists will be trying to get their hands on as much of it as possible”.
The Al-Manaar Mosque in Kensignton, London has been linked with this fraudulent smuggling of money to the Islamic State in the past. Amal Al-Wahabi, a young Muslim bride and employee of the Mosque’s own nursery was convicted in August for a plot to smuggle £15,600 to her husband in Syria in her friends knickers. She met her drug smuggler turned terrorist fighter husband, Aine Davis, better known as ‘Hamza’ while working at the mosque.