Syrians’ jail terms for illegal fundraising in Kuwait upheld

KUWAIT CITY, May 23: The Court of Appeals upheld the verdict issued by the Criminal Court which had sentenced three Syrian expatriates, including two imams, for illegal collection of donations, reports quoting Al-Rai daily.

According to the case file, the three Syrians were arrested for collecting donations and using mosques for the purpose under the pretext of sending the money to displaced Syrian families, when in reality the funds were intended for the terrorist organization Al-Nusra Front. This arrest was based on the ban imposed by the state against collecting donations in mosques and other places without authorization from the concerned authorities.

Two of the suspects, who were imams of mosques, had managed to collect huge donations, which they referred to a compatriot, who is the head of a company. The third suspect then transferred the money to some overseas bank accounts from where it was sent to Al-Nusra Front.

During investigations with the Public Prosecution, the suspects had admitted to the crime, revealing that the funds were transferred in batches in order to avoid attracting the attention of monitoring authorities to their illegal activities. However, during the trial, they had denied all charges. David Cohen, the US Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said at the Centre for New American Security on Confronting New Threats in Terrorism Financing in 2014, “Most of the private funds raised in the Gulf for Syria are motivated by a sincere and admirable desire to ease suffering. Most of these funds are indeed used for legitimate humanitarian purposes.

However, a number of fundraisers in the Gulf particularly Kuwait and Qatar are soliciting donations to fund extremist insurgents rather than to meet legitimate humanitarian needs. Some fundraisers in Kuwait have in fact been exploiting charitable donors by soliciting humanitarian donations from both inside and outside the country, cloaking their efforts in humanitarian garb, but diverting those funds to extremist groups in Syria”. He added, “We congratulate the Kuwaiti government for the steps it has taken to enhance its capacity to combat illicit financing of terrorism such as by enacting a new law to ban terrorism financing. However, we urge Kuwaitis to do more to effectively stem the fl ow of money to terrorists.”

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