A Nottinghamshire man who pretended to be fundraising to help people affected by the Syrian crisis, but was actually collecting money to fund terrorism, has been jailed.
Adeel Ul-Haq, 21, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, was sentenced to 12 months in prison at the Old Bailey yesterday. He solicited charitable donations through his Twitter account, ostensibly to fund humanitarian aid convoys for those affected by the crisis, but sent them instead to an Islamic State fighter in Syria, according to police.
The Charity Commission revealed yesterday that it had been secretly investigating charitable trusts held by Ul-Haq since 2014.
Ul-Haq was sentenced to a further five years for helping another person, Aseel Muthana, to commit an act of terrorism by helping him travel to Syria.
Two other people, Kristen Brekke, 19, from Cardiff, and Forhad Rahman, 21, from Cirencester, were also convicted of helping Muthana. Brekke was sentenced to four and a half years in prison and Rahman to five years.
The Charity Commission said yesterday that it had opened a statutory inquiry on 15 April 2014 into Ul-Haq’s charitable trusts, which it did not name, having been tipped off by the North East Counter Terrorism Unit. But it did not announce the inquiry while the criminal investigation was current.
Ten days after the inquiry was opened, the commission froze Ul-Haq’s bank accounts and, on 21 July 2014, it directed the bank to transfer the money to a genuine charity helping those affected by the crisis.
Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the commission, said: "We are pleased with today’s verdict and that the commission has been able to protect funds donated by the public to assist those affected by the Syria crisis.
"If you raise funds for humanitarian work or other charitable purposes, you assume the role and responsibilities of a trustee over those funds and are accountable for their proper use, even if you have not registered as a charity or you are not acting on behalf of one.
"Our investigation shows that people will not get away with abusing charitable funds."
She said the process was not yet finished and the commission would continue to work with Nectu and would pursue all options to find and recover any other charitable funds.
Ul-Haq has been removed from his role as trustee and is disqualified from acting as a charity trustee in the future.
The commission investigation has been on hold since September, pending the outcome of the trial. In a statement the commission said it would publish a report once its inquiry was complete.
Russell said the public should not be put off giving to charity, but should always check if the charity was registered and look up the charity on the commission’s website.
The police investigation, which involved officers from Nectu, the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, the Welsh Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit and Nottinghamshire Police, found Ul-Haq, Rahman and Brekke had assisted Muthana by researching how to travel to worn-torn countries and purchasing a passport, flights to Cyprus and military clothing.
Jon Stratford, South Wales Police assistant chief constable, said: "Today’s sentence shows that those who support a terrorist organisation will be brought to justice."