Police seize £250k of suspected Islamic State funding
Police have seized £250,000 in cash from travellers suspected of trying to fly out of Manchester to fund terror group Islamic State, the MEN has learned.
The bulk of the haul was confiscated from Syria-bound passengers intercepted before boarding flights from Manchester Airport.
In some cases, travellers were caught with tens of thousands of pounds on their person, often stashed in hand luggage or under clothing.
Using civil powers under the Terrorism Act, police have been able to seize suspect cash before asking a court for the money to be forfeited.
The legislation empowers courts to confiscate cash which it deemed ‘probably’ being used for terror purposes rather than the criminal standard, ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
And of the £250,000 intercepted around the north west in the year to April - the courts ruled the vast majority was being used to fund terrorism.
In most cases the passengers were unable to give a satisfactory explanation as to how they came by the money or what they intended to do with it.
Police say their crackdown is allowing them to choke funding to terror groups like IS even when there is insufficient evidence to press criminal charges.
The cash is believed to be heading from Turkey across the border to militia members in Syria and Iraq.
The brutal regime, now thought to number more than 30,000 fighters, has terrorised the region, abducting and killing members of religious and ethnic minorities.
Their fighters have sparked world-wide outrage for beheading soldiers and journalists.
Some 500 sympathisers from the UK are thought to have travelled out to Syria since civil war broke out, dozens of them from Greater Manchester.
Det Chief Superintendant Tony Mole, head of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, told the MEN: “Terrorists need money to fight. At the Turkish border with Syria there are shops where you can buy guns, boots, rations and if you are going out there to fight you need money and you want equipment.
“We take that cash away from people, not only stopping them from buying weapons and funding terror organisations which are a threat to the UK and an international threat but we also disrupt that person.”
Anyone with information about someone they suspect may be about to travel to Syria is encouraged to call the anti-terrorism hotline on 0800 789321.