Man who funded ISIS from Ireland jailed
Hassan Bal, 26, of O’Connell Street in Waterford, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully transferring €400 for use by the terror group and another of attempting to collect money on their behalf.
In the first successful trial of its kind in Ireland, Waterford Circuit Criminal Court heard how Bal had been in contact with “medium to high level” ISIS operatives and even tried to travel to Syria to fight in the civil war there.
The trial also revealed that Bal’s crimes were uncovered after an investigative journalist working at the Daily Mail alerted Metropolitan Police detectives in London.
In 2015, the journalist had posed as a Jihadist looking to donate funds and was told to contact Bal – who was using the alias Abu Abdul Rahman Britani – by Omar Hussein, a London-based ISIS fundamentalist better known as the ‘Supermarket Jihadi’.
UK police soon realised Bal was living in Ireland and alerted Gardaí.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly also heard that Bal had travelled to Turkey in April 2015 but was turned back by anti-terror police at Istanbul’s Attaturk Airport.
A search of the extremist’s Waterford home uncovered images of him dressed in military fatigues holding a gun, as well as a fake photojournalist ID card to be used to gain access to war zones in Syria.
His phone also contained a document outlining how to travel to Syria as well as propaganda videos of suicide bombings and executions.
Bal was born in the UK and moved to Ireland with his family aged 12, living first in Wexford before moving to Waterford three years later.
The former electrician holds an Irish passport and is of mixed heritage – his father is from Turkey and his mother is Irish.
Bal’s family told authorities that they believed he had become radicalised prior to moving to Ireland.
He was described as a “valued member” of the Islamic community in Waterford and said he was “remorseful” and “deeply sorry” in court, claiming he “came to his senses” after his arrest and denounced his former views.
Judge O’Kelly imposed a sentence of two-and-a-half years in jail.
He further directed that Bal, upon his release, must not interact with radical groups and must undergo counselling.