A barber shop owner in the U.K. was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Thursday for sending funds eligible to struggling businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic to Islamic State fighters in Syria.
Tarek Namouz, 43, had received several Covid-19 grant payments for his barber shop, Boss Crew Barbers, located in Hammersmith in west London.
During an investigation into his accounts, U.K. authorities found seven individual transfers totaling £11,280 (€12,779) to Islamic extremists in Syria between November 2020 and April 2021.
The court also heard, however, that Namouz had been recorded telling a visitor in prison he had sent double this figure, closer to £25,000 (€28,323).
Namouz had already been found guilty on eight counts of funding terrorism and two counts of possessing information likely to be useful for terrorism.
Police located a mobile phone at Namouz’ barber shop during a raid in May 2021 that contained messages to extremists in Syria, in addition to an Islamic State bomb-making video and a video on how to kill someone with a knife.
After initially denying sending the money, Namouz admitted he had done so to “help the poor and people in need in Syria,” a defense that was rejected by the court.
Namouz had also previously been imprisoned for raping an 18-year-old woman in a north London pub of which he used to be the landlord back in 2014. He was released from prison halfway through a 10-year sentence on license in September 2019.
“Terrorist groups rely on funding to carry out their activities and to continue to operate,” said Richard Smith, in charge of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism division.
“People like Namouz who provide money to terrorist groups — both in the U.K. and overseas — are enabling others to go and commit serious and deadly attacks, and we will always pursue and investigate those people and seek to bring them to justice,” he added.
Judge Peter Lodder KC, who heard Thursday’s sentencing hearing at Kingston Crown Court, told Namouz he had shown a “commitment to terrorism” and had sought to “re-establish a state run in accordance with extreme Islamic principles.”
Following sentencing, Namouz called on Allah to “destroy” those present in the courtroom.
“We will meet again at the last judgment. You are infidels, and you will end up in hell,” he shouted.