Abu Dhabi: A 50-year-old man was charged with funding terrorist organisations in Syria and using social media to promote their extremist ideologies, the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals heard on Wednesday.
The court charged the Turkish defendant (M.A.A.), with supplying funds to two terrorist organisations operating in Syria — Nusra Front and Ahrar Al Sham.
He was also accused of using social media, namely Facebook and Twitter, to promote the ideologies of the two organisations. The court used an Arabic interpreter fluent in Turkish to communicate with the defendant, who denied all the charges against him.
“I was sending money through a charity licensed by the Turkish government and operating under the supervision of the security authorities there, to help the civilian poor and homeless, especially women, children, the elderly and victims of terrorism, violence, wars and fighting in Syria,” the defendant told the court.
Defending himself, he added: “I have been careful to send funds to refugees camps and to civilian victims of violence and fighting in specific areas of Syria, and have never sent any financial assistance to any military or a person carrying a weapon or any member of the Nusra Front or Ahrar Al Sham groups.”
The defendant added that he made sure that the charity that he dealt with and which was licensed by the Turkish government “did not deal with any of these terrorist groups and organisations “
In response to a question from the judge whether he had any official license to carry out this work, the defendant said: “I did not have any official permission, but I was relying on the fact that this charity is an official association operating in accordance with Turkish laws that criminalise any financial assistance to terrorist groups in Syria. I also did not promote the actions of these groups, whether via Facebook or any other means of social communication.”
The defendant continued: “All that I wrote through Facebook is urging those who are able to assist displaced and injured civilians, especially those in refugee camps on the Turkish borders with Syria, as a kind of service and humanitarian assistance to these civilian victims of war and violence in Syria.”
At the end of his defence, the man denied any connection to any militant terrorist groups in Syria and said he did not meet any fighter or provide any assistance to anyone carrying arms there.
The defence lawyer, Ali Al Abbadi, asked for time to review the case files and obtain the prosecution’s permission for a copy of the investigation papers, to prepare the defence.
The hearing was adjourned to November 14, when the court will listen to the defence lawyer’s argument.