Woman denies trying to hide Syria rebel cash in underwear

Nawal Msaad was found with €20,000 when she was stopped at Heathrow
Nawal Msaad arrives at the Old Bailey in London, 8 July 2014.

Nawal Msaad arrives at the Old Bailey in London, 8 July 2014. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA

A woman who allegedly tried to smuggle €20,000 in her underwear to Syrian rebels hid the cash there because she wanted to keep it somewhere safe, the Old Bailey heard on Thursday.

Nawal Msaad, 27, was caught with the large denomination notes rolled up and hidden in a condom as she prepared to board a British Airways flight in January to Istanbul from Heathrow.

She was said to be acting as a courier for her friend, Amal el-Wahabi, who was allegedly trying to send money to her partner, Aine Davis, who was fighting with anti-government forces in Syria.

The cash, equivalent to £16,000, was dropped, wrapped in clingfilm, by an anonymous courier through the letterbox at Wahabi’s rented house in north-west London, from where Msaad picked it up.

Describing waking the next morning,Msaad, a university student from Barnsbury, north London, told the Old Bailey: “I took the money out and once I was dressed I wanted to make sure I kept the money on me somewhere safe.” She described rummaging around in a drawer for a rubber band to secure the money in clingfilm.

“I was looking for a rubber band and I thought [the condom] might work and it did. I thought it was a really good way of sealing the money. It was secure – there was no way the condom could have come off.”

Msaad said she put the money under the waistband of black leggings that she was wearing under her jeans. She said she came up with the idea herself and denied that she was smuggling the cash out of the country.

“Amal did not suggest putting it in a condom, it was me being creative, it was my idea to do that,” she said.

Describing her decision to then hide it in her leggings, she added: “For one second I thought of putting it in there but just for the time being, I didn’t intend to keep it there.”

Msaad said she did not put the money in her bag because “Amal had specifically asked me to make sure I kept the money on me.” She denied that she had put the money in her knickers or that it had been inserted inside her.

After she was stopped and searched by counter-terrorism police she pulled the money out of her leggings and pushed the condom inside herself because she was embarrassed, she said.

Msaad told the court she believed the money was for Davis to put down a deposit on a house in Turkey. Both women deny providing funding for terrorism, and the trial continues.




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