Syria charity cash probe as five arrested

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COUNTER-TERRORISM police are investigating claims that substantial sums of charity cash donated to help the Syrian people did not reach those in need.

Officers from the Leeds-based North East Counter Terrorism Unit arrested five men from Yorkshire yesterday morning on suspicion of fraud as part of a probe into an unregistered organisation claiming to be a Syrian aid charity. It has not been named.

Officers are investigating what happened to donated money and have not ruled out that it was used for criminal or terrorist purposes.

Those arrested are two men, aged 33 and 43, from Savile Town, Dewsbury; two men from Pellon and King Cross, Halifax; and a 38-year-old man from the Heeley Green area of Sheffield.

Six properties and a business premises have been searched.

In Savile Town yesterday, resident Mohammad Afsar, 62, a retired textile worker, said he wasn’t aware of the fraud investigation but he wasn’t surprised by it.

He said: “I have seen people not doing things properly – the people who are doing these charity works are not aware of the law or the rules applied by the Charity Commission.”

Farook Yunis, of community group Kumon Y’all, said police had warned people to donate only to legitimate charities, adding: “Most people who have given money have given it to the right people. If there is one bad apple, it spoils it for everybody.”