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Student 'found trying to smuggle €20000 in her knickers for Syrian rebels'

Nawal Msaad told police the money was to buy gold for her mother, court hears

A student who stashed €20,000 in her knickers was stopped by police at Heathrow Airport as she attempted to smuggle the money abroad to a British jihadist in Syria, the Old Bailey has heard.

Prosecutors told the Old Bailey that Nawal Msaad, 27, agreed to be a “trusted courier” for her close friend, Amal El-Wahabi, and was promised £800 as payment to take the money out of the country.

The money was allegedly intended for Ms El-Wahabi’s husband, Aine Davis, 30, a British man who was “fighting with extremist jihadist terror groups” in Syria, Mark Dennis QC, prosecuting, said.

Ms Msaad, a student at London Metropolitan University, was stopped at the gate at Heathrow as she attempted to board the flight to Istanbul in January. When questioned by police as to why she was visiting Turkey, she replied she was taking a “short break” and that she intended to buy gold for her mother.

When police asked how much cash Ms Msaad had, she replied that she had €20,000 (£16,500) “around me”, the court heard.

Ms Msaad was stopped from boarding the flight and taken to a private room, at which she removed a roll of notes from her underwear, some of which had been wrapped in a condom and placed inside her, Mr Dennis said. A total of 38 €500 notes, four €200 notes and two €100 notes were recovered.

“Her active role was as a trusted courier - collecting and carrying the large sum of money, concealing it on the journey and then ensuring that the money was handed to the correct person at the end of the journey for the purposes for which it had been smuggled,” Mr Dennis told the jury.

The prosecutor said the arrangements were made by Ms Msaad with Ms El-Wahabi and her husband Mr Davis days before Ms Msaad was due to travel through phone calls and WhatsApp messages.  

Mr Dennis said the allegation of this case is that both defendants knew or had reasonable cause to suspect that the money “was or might be used for the purposes of terrorism”.

Both Ms Msaad and Ms El-Wahabi deny the charge of funding terrorism.

The trial continues.