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UK jails Somali men for 'terror fundraising'

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A court in the UK has jailed two identical twin brothers for three years after they admitted to a charge of fundraising for acts of terrorism abroad.

Mohammed Shabir Ali and Mohammed Shafiq Ali, 25, were part of a "network of support" for their older brother while he was attending a "terrorist training camp" in Somalia, London's Central Criminal Court heard on Wednesday.

The sentencing came a day after the brothers plead guilty in a plea bargain.

According to a taped telephone conversation between the twins and Mohammed Shamim Ali, their elder brother, the siblings planned to collect donations from the public under the guise of being for charity, prosecutor Timothy Cray said.

Judge Adrian Fulford, sentencing the pair, said he recognised that their main concern had been for their 29-year-old brother's physical and mental health.

They were aware of what their brother was doing in Somalia, however, he added.

"It is clear that they knew that their brother needed financial assistance and why," Fulford told the court.

The judge said that he took into account the previous good behaviour of the men, adding that they had shown "a strong element of responsibility" by testifying at a trial earlier this year where four men were convicted of murder.

Plea bargain

"The brothers from Stepney in East London were originally charged with helping another person to commit acts of terrorism [and] with possessing a document which could be used in terrorism," said Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba, reporting from London.

"Those charges could have carried a maximum life sentence, but in the last few days the pair agreed to plead guilty to a new charge of collecting money which they knew might be used to help terrorist acts abroad, a charge with carried a maximum of 14 years in jail."

The twins told donors that they were raising money for Muslim Aid, a UK-based charity, and "the Palestinian cause", prosecutors said.
 
Police say they do not know exactly how much money the brothers sent to Somalia. But they admitted the charge on the basis of the sum of £3,000 ($4,700) sent between August 2008 and June 2011.

Mohammed Shafiq Ali worked for Transport for London, the public authority that runs the British capital's transport network.

Investigators say they recovered a document entitled "44 ways to Support Jihad", written by former senior al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, from their possession. Awlaki was killed in a US drone attack in Yemen last year.

Mohammed Shamim Ali is believed to have travelled to Somalia in 2008, and has not been heard from since, said Baba.

A third man, Shabaaz Hussain, arrested at the same time as the twins, was jailed in March for five years for funding men at Somali fighter training camps.


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