'Dumbfounded': Neighbours speak of shock as Walsall brothers charged with funding terrorism
Neighbours living in the attractive suburban street, where two brothers who have been charged with funding terrorism are believed to live with their parents, spoke of their shock at the allegations.
"I am dumbfounded. It's come as a real shock," said neighbour and mother-of-one Laura Page, aged 26.
She added: "This is a lovely neighbourhood. We moved here only six months ago and now I am worried if this sort of thing happens."
The brothers are accused of sending £10,000 to their suspected terrorist brother and his wife fighting in Syria, and yesterday they appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court.
The court heard that Mohammed Iqbal Hussain, aged 25, and Mohamed Suyaubur Rohaman, 32, who live in Castle Road, Walsall Wood, will deny charges of funding terrorism.
The brothers, who worked in the family laundrette business in Walsall, are accused of transferring the money to another brother Musadiqur Rohaman, who is believed to be engaged in terror-related activities in Raqqa.
He and his wife Zohura Siddeka, are thought to have travelled to Syria on December 1, 2014. Both men were remanded in custody at Belmarsh Prison and will next appear at the Old Bailey on January 29.
Residents in the quiet suburb of Walsall Wood say they are rightly shocked that two of their neighbours have been accused of sending cash to a sibling thought to be fighting in Syria.
The men may well prove to be innocent, but the allegation itself is enough to prompt fears that activities related to international terrorism are happening right here on our doorstep.
The neighbours we spoke to told us they were concerned about the serious nature of the charges. They expressed shock that such a thing could possibly happen in their area.
Police have been quick to state that there is no immediate threat to the public, and it must be stressed that the two men have denied the charges put to them. They will get the chance to prove their innocence in court.
But the whole situation rams home the point that we must all play our part in combatting terrorism.
Horrific though it may be, there are members of our communities that have found themselves tempted by the hate-fuelled message of IS and its atrocities.
And today Muslim leaders also stressed that cases such as these were rare, amid rising concerns of terrorism allegations linked to the town after two other men were arrested in Walsall on Thursday on suspicion of Syria-related terror offences.
Both were bailed with strict conditions until April.
Another resident, Jim Jones, 45, said there had been several incidents of police activity in the street during the last fortnight including a police presence day and night outside the men's home more recently.
The air conditioning and refrigerator engineer said: "When I first heard about it, I couldn't believe it. There has been a bit of commotion in recent weeks and they keep themselves to themselves so none of us really know what to make of it."
Scott Dale, 32, said: "I am shocked by it. No-one really knows them. I saw the police up there but I didn't know the allegations would be that serious. This is a safe and nice place to live and I've been here all my life."
Tony Higgins, 67, has lived in the street for more than 20 years. He said: "I am worried about what may have been going on. They moved in quite a few years ago but that is all that I really know about them."
Another neighbour, who wished not to be named, said: "They are as good as neighbours as you would want.
"They are nice people who moved in a long time ago now. There are quite a few of them living in the house.
"We haven't got a bad word to say about them. We have an occasional chat if we cross paths but don't know any more than that."
Muhammad Yaseen Khan, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association which has nearly 2,000 members across Walsall and Wolverhampton, said: "This is shocking and allegations such as these are against a minute minority. But they should not be happening at all.
"It is now more important than ever for there to be strong leadership. Of course talk of 'no go' zones in Walsall is rubbish. Islam is peaceful." Walsall councillor Mohammed Arif said: "There is something like 30,000 Muslims living in Walsall and the vast majority go about their business in the community in harmony. But we are seeing isolated cases where young people are being tempted by the message of ISIS."
Councillor Arif feared isolated and vulnerable young Muslims were being radicalised by things they had read and seen on the internet. He said: "My message to our youngsters is don't go to Syria. Don't waste your lives, talk to someone in the community or the authorities."
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