Money was for orphans, says terror charge Imam

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The Independent Online

A Somali imam who allegedly encouraged jihad-style terrorism across the world said today money sent abroad was simply aid for orphaned children and the "destitute" in war-torn Somalia.

Ahmed Mohamed, 33, told a court his activities in the UK had "humanitarian" objectives and were not designed to facilitate violence.

The preacher, along with co-defendant Musse Yusuf, 32, is accused of disseminating terrorist material and raising money to support terrorism.

Substantial sums of cash which passed through bank accounts operated principally by Mohamed, were allegedly channelled to Somalia to bring about change in the country.

The pair allegedly assumed control over the media and fundraising activities of Al Shabaab - a group said to engage in guerrilla warfare tactics against the Somali government and Ethiopian troops stationed in the country.

Giving evidence at Kingston Crown Court, south west London, Mohamed today insisted his activities were entirely innocent.

"The money I sent was not for war," he explained.

"It could not defend a country but it could do something for an orphan and for people who are fleeing ... people in a destitute situation."

And he added: "I never sent one penny to Al Shabaab."

Jurors heard earlier how donors with either charitable or political intentions had sent money which was processed by the defendants and held by them for the purposes of terrorism.

Tens of thousands of pounds were said to have been moved between banks and bureaux de change, both within the UK and internationally.

But Mohamed insisted the money was being sent to people injured in the conflict in his home country.

Asked if any of the funds were being directed to soldiers for violent purposes, he said: "There was no allocation. The people were coming and giving money for the needy ones."

Describing the stricken recipients of donations, he said: "Some people were outside the hospital, in the entrance, if you look at the pictures you see people under trees who are injured, lying on the ground, there are not even mattresses.

"The death toll of the people was high."

Mohamed, from, Bow, east London, denies dissemination of terrorist publications and fundraising contrary to the Terrorism Act between January 2006 and May last year.

Yusuf, of Higgs Close, Leicester, denies the same charges and four counts of possession of a document or record for terrorist purpose contrary to the Terrorism Act in May last year.