Monday 27 May 2019

Irish father jailed over his fundraising for Isil

File sketch of Hassan Bal in court Sketch: Alwyn Gillespie
File sketch of Hassan Bal in court Sketch: Alwyn Gillespie

Ralph Riegel

An Irish father of one was jailed over fundraising for the Islamic State terrorist organisation after being arrested by gardaí following a classic 'sting' operation by a UK newspaper that targeted an Isil figure known as 'the Supermarket Jihadi'.

Hassan Bal (26) was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Waterford Circuit Court after he pleaded guilty to two charges of providing and attempting to provide funding for Isil.

Judge Eugene O'Kelly imposed a four-and-a-half year sentence on Bal but suspended the final two years.

"A few hundred euros in the hands of a ruthless and dedicated terrorist could be used to deadly effect," he said.

Interpol and the counter-terrorism unit of London's Metropolitan Police supported the two-year Garda probe.

Bal had tried to travel to Syria to fight for the Isil caliphate in 2015 but was sent home by the Turkish authorities.

Superintendent Anthony Pettit told Judge O'Kelly that Bal was arrested after an undercover operation by Omar Wahid, a UK investigative journalist.

The 'sting' was focused on a senior Isil official in the UK known as 'Omar Hussain,' nicknamed the 'Supermarket Jihadi'.

The journalist made contact with Omar in 2015 via Kik, an encrypted messaging service, and posed as an Isil sympathiser. Omar said funding was vitally needed by Isil.

He was put in contact with an Isil operative called 'Abu Issa Amriki' in Syria and 'Abdul Britani,' who was Bal in Ireland.

Gardaí later arrested Bal, formerly of O'Connell Street, Waterford, in December 2015 and in April 2017.

Bal had sent €400 to Bosnia to be forwarded to Isil.

His phone contained a photograph of him in army-type fatigues and holding a fake pistol.

The phone also contained propaganda material about Isil suicide bombings and executions.

Judge O'Kelly was told Bal felt like "a coward" and had "pathological guilt" for not doing more to help Muslims who were suffering in Syria's brutal civil war.

Bal's sister-in-law and brother-in-law, both from the UK, had travelled to Syria.

His brother-in-law was subsequently killed fighting there.

Irish Independent

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