- The four men allegedly sent £4,500 to a fighter associated with Al Qaeda
- Also plotted to set up a 'night team' of terrorist snipers in war-torn Syria
- Phone chats allegedly showed them discussing the purchase of weapons
- All four defendants deny terror charges and are on trial at the Old Bailey
A group of UK-based Islamic extremists used charity convoys taking food and medicine to Syria as a cover to smuggle money to terrorists, a court has heard.
The four men allegedly sent £4,500 to a fighter with Al Qaeda-linked group Jabhat al-Nusra so he could buy a sniper rifle and other military equipment.
They also plotted to set up a 'night team' of terrorist snipers in the war-torn country, it was claimed.
Syed Hoque, 37, is said to have supplied cash to the terrorist, his nephew Mohammed Choudhury, 26, and discussed the beheading of enemies.
Mashoud Miah, 27, is said to have acted as a 'fixer' while Mohammed Hussain, 30, and Pervez Rafiq, 46, allegedly sourced equipment to be sent to Syria on charity convoys.
Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC told the Old Bailey: 'The defendants made use, or so it would appear, of aid convoys as a means of moving money and other property out of the United Kingdom to Syria.
'The prosecution do not suggest that the aid convoys themselves did not have an overall charitable purpose, or that those participating did not intend by the provision of food and medicine to help the civilian population suffering in Syria.
'However the convoys would have provided a useful conduit for these defendants to abuse the spirit of the convoys to convey money and property to terrorists.'
Miss Darlow added: 'This is not about helping orphans in Syria... this is about arms.'
The plot was uncovered when Hoque and his wife Nazia Khanom were stopped at Heathrow Airport on their return from Bangladesh on 5 August 2014.
Analysis of the contents of their phones later revealed Whatsapp chats to Hoque's nephew Mohammed Choudhury, who was fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, the terrorist wing of Al Qaeda in Syria.
Messages are said to have showed that Hoque had supplied his nephew with money and discussed buying a Dragunov sniper rifle, AK-47 and a nightscope.
Choudhury had left the UK for Cairo in September 2012 and did not return on the booked flight for July 2013, instead making his way to Syria.
Miss Darlow said: 'Syed Hoque was only too aware that his nephew was engaged in military conflict and that he sought by violent means the death and destruction of the Syrian President and his supporters.
'Hoque actively encouraged Choudhury in these goals and repeatedly both provided and offered to provide financial and other support to Choudhury.'
In one chat Hoque even tried to 'reign in some of Choudhury's worst excesses' by advising him to behead his enemies but not mutilate them, jurors heard.
Detectives also found a list of equipment which Miah was trying to gather together, including a satellite phone, SatNav, iPad, laptop and Kestrel ballistics software to help a shooter fire more accurately.
'This was a list of equipment which would be of enormous use to someone based in a region such as Syria, where normal communications had broken down,' said Miss Darlow.
A search of Hussain's home uncovered a notebook referring to £3,000 and a to-do list mentioning a range finder and satellite phone.
Hoque allegedly sent the £3,000 to Syria on a Children in Deen convoy leaving the UK on 25 July 2013 and £1,500 on an Al Fatiha convoy leaving the UK on 21 December 2013.
He also offered to help Miah raise funds for his plan for a night team of snipers, the court heard.
On October 16 2013, shortly after one charity convoy set off, Choudhury told Hoque that he was going on an IED training course and asked him to try and get hold of a night scope with the 'greatest zoom'.
But by December 21, he had changed his mind.
Hoque asked told him: 'Try and save some of the money I have to buy a car there, and also, remember the 3000 for the Dragunov [that] Abu Issah [Miah] had? He said he would buy a sniper rifle for you. Did he buy it for you? If not he can still give you the 3000.
'I told him to buy a sniper for you as you didn't have any, he said he would but I'm not sure if you reminded him.'
Choudhury said he would rather have a car: 'No, he didn't buy it n Dragunov is not good, but from the 3000 I bought a AK [assault rifle] for 1800 abwt 5 mnths ago...I can borrow a sniper [rifle] from da kateeba [squad]. I jst need a car.'
Nevertheless, Miah was still focused on creating a team if night fighters, boasting on January 30 2014 that he had 'created a nyt [night] team' adding that it 'cost a lot of money.'
'How can I send [a little money]?' Hoque responded.
He asked Choudhury: 'Have you gone on night missions yet with your team? How many brothers?'
'Not yet cause still need to buy some stuff,' Miah replied. 'Its very expensive but it will be very effective inshallah. There is no nyt team at all amonst da brs [brothers] so get ur hands on dis.'
Hoque, of Stockingstone Road, Luton, denies three counts of entering into an arrangement to supply money or property to terrorists.
Miah, of Aston Street, Limehouse, east London, Hussain, of Galsworthy Avenue, Limehouse, and Rafique, of Basil Street, Huddersfield, all deny one count of entering into an arrangement to supply money or property to terrorists.
The trial continues.