Primary school teacher banned for life for funding Islamist terrorists

A primary school teacher has been banned from the classroom for life after sending money to Islamic terror groups.

Miriam Sebbagh, 52, who taught children at Hunwick Primary School in Crook, County Durham, was sending Islamic terrorists thousands of pounds, a Teaching Regulation Agency disciplinary panel found.

Police discovered £4,670 in a safe at her address which was intended to fund terror attacks.

The money was subsequently forfeited under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and Ms Sebbagh was also ordered to pay costs of £12,654.

The misconduct panel also heard that she had tried to radicalise a friend.

Ms Sebbagh had been arrested in July 2017 by Counter Terrorism Policing North East (CTPNE), but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to charge her with any criminal offences.

‘High level of concern regarding Ms Sebbagh’s state of mind’

CTPNE “maintained a high level of concern regarding Ms Sebbagh’s state of mind, the opinions which she espoused and her actions within the teaching arena”, the panel was told.

A witness statement provided to the panel said: “Ms Sebbagh initially came to the attention of CTPNE following receipt of financial intelligence, which indicated that she had made several payments to an individual linked to Al-Muhajiroun (‘ALM’) which is a proscribed terrorist organisation.

“The investigation identified that Ms Sebbagh sent 5 payments totalling £2,500 from her account to the individual.”

During Ms Sebbagh’s police interview on May 8 2018, she provided a prepared statement in which she stated that she regularly donated to good causes including Muslim charities as part of her faith.  

However, a witness statement to the panel said: “Despite Ms Sebbagh’s assertion that the payments she had made were charitable in nature, the only ‘charitable’ aspects of those payments were to support fellow extremists whilst under criminal investigation for terrorist related offences and/or to fund travel to join ISIS or others who espouse hate.”

‘Extreme and concerning’ videos 

The panel was also told that Ms Sebbagh held views that violent jihad was the correct interpretation of Islamic teaching and had sought to radicalise one individual on Facebook by sending four “extreme and concerning” videos to them, one of which would be classified as a criminal offence to disseminate contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006.

Ms Sebbagh was banned from the classroom for life by Alan Meyrick, on behalf of the Education Secretary, who ruled: “The panel was of the view that Ms Sebbagh’s conduct was at the more serious end of the scale, and it was mindful of the gravity and extremely serious nature of the allegations against her.

“Similarly, the panel considered that public confidence in the profession could be seriously weakened if conduct such as that found against Ms Sebbagh was not treated with the utmost seriousness when regulating the conduct of the profession.”

Mr Meyrick added that in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against her, he had decided that she would “not be entitled to apply for restoration of her eligibility to teach”.

Ms Sebbagh did not attend the hearing and therefore did not give any oral evidence.

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