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Mother and daughter jailed for funding terrorism by sending hundreds of pounds to a relative who had joined ISIS in Syria

A mother and daughter have been jailed for funding terrorism by sending hundreds of pounds to a relative who had joined so-called Islamic State in Syria....CONTINUE READING

Stella Oyella, 53, and Vanessa Atim, 32, both from east London, were found guilty by a jury of entering into an arrangement to fund Joseph Ogaba between March and October 2017.

Judge Mark Dennis KC, sitting at the Old Bailey, sentenced Atim to three years and nine months imprisonment and jailed Oyella for three years.

Ogaba was Oyella’s brother who had converted to Islam.

He was a 30-year-old self-employed computer programmer when he left home in north London, to join the terrorist group in September 2014.

The judge said the women were not motivated by IS’s extremist beliefs but wanted to help Ogaba who was manipulating their close family bond as he said he was ‘desperate’ for money to cover his general expenses.

There is no evidence the money was used for weapons or the women, who are Roman Catholic and of previous good character, wanted to support terrorism.

Stella Oyella, 53, and Vanessa Atim (pictured), 32, both of Newham, east London, were found guilty by a jury of entering into an arrangement to fund Joseph Ogaba between March and October 2017

Judge Mark Dennis KC, sitting at the Old Bailey, sentenced Atim to three years and nine months imprisonment and jailed Oyella for three years. Pictured: Stella Oyella

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But the horrors of IS was dominating the headlines and they should have been aware of what the devastation they brought, the judge said.

He told them: ‘You both turned a blind eye to what your brother and uncle was engaged in and in so doing you were in effect giving support for terrorist activity which in 2017 he was still associated with.

‘However, taken that your motivation was not ideological or a desire to engage in such activities, you knew what you were doing was wrong and could get you into trouble.’

The money transferred was at a low level but the women should have known that Ogaba was a ‘committed individual’ who had left his home and was prepared to support jihad, the court heard.

A burst of swearing broke out from the public gallery as the sentence was passed and calls of ‘stay strong’ were also shouted by supporters as the women were led from the dock.

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Jurors were told Ogaba was eventually captured and held in a detention camp until his death around July 2022.

During his time in Syria, Mr Ogaba kept in contact with the defendants.

In 2017, they entered into an arrangement to send him funds, with his niece Atim acting as a ‘lynchpin’ from Uganda where she was living at the time, the court heard.

The jury heard that Atim had updated her mother about her communications with Ogaba and when funds were successfully transferred.

Great lengths were taken to hide the financial transactions with the use of ‘middlemen’ overseas, the prosecution said.

The activities were exposed after a computer hard drive was uncovered in Hajin in Syria by Syrian Democratic Forces in 2018 and handed to coalition forces.

An examination revealed images of Ogaba posing with a variety of AK-47 machine guns and high-performance rifles and ammunition belts.

A burst of swearing broke out from the public gallery as the sentence was passed and calls of ‘stay strong’ were also shouted by supporters as the women were led from the dock. Pictured: The Old Bailey

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There were also images of an apparent explosive device, extremist publications, and family photographs.

Meanwhile, Atim’s iPhone had been downloaded after she was subjected to port stops at Heathrow Airport.

But its significance only became clear to investigators after the discovery of the hard drive in Hajin province, indicating Mr Ogaba was being funded from overseas.

The prosecution alleged that Atim and Oyella had entered into a funding arrangement when they ‘knew or had reasonable cause to suspect that the funds provided would or might be used for the purposes of terrorism’.

Commander Dominic Murphy, who leads the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said after sentencing: ‘These women went to great lengths to first arrange, and then distance themselves from money transfers to Ogaba.

‘They knew he had travelled to Syria to join a terrorist group and by sending him cash.

‘They helped him remain with Daesh.

‘This case shows how we work with our international partners to close the net on people who support terrorist activity, no matter how much time has passed.’