Primary school teacher banned from classrooms after sending thousands
A primary school teacher has been banned from teaching after sending thousands of pounds to individuals and groups linked to terrorism.
Miriam Sebbagh, 52, who worked at Hunwick primary school in Crook, County Durham, has been prohibited “indefinitely” from any classroom by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA).
It came after she was found to have made five payments worth £2,500 to a person linked to banned terrorist organisation Al-Muhajiroun (ALM), as well as sending extremist videos promoting violent jihad.
In July 2017, Ms Sebbagh was arrested by Counter Terrorism Policing North East (CTPNE) but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided there was “insufficient evidence” to charge her.
CTPNE “maintained a high level of concern” regarding Ms Sebbagh’s state of mind, her opinions and her actions as a teacher, and submitted that her conduct should be considered by the TRA.
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, which is a proscribed terrorist organisation.
“The investigation identified that Ms Sebbagh sent five payments [of ] £2,500 from her account to the individual.”
A further seven payments totalling £1,310 were made between January 27 and July 5 2016 to an individual who is suspected to have left the UK and join the terrorist group calling itself Islamic State.
In 2017, a payment of £100 was made to an individual believed to have married a suspected ALM member and there was an unsuccessful payment in 2015 to an individual arrested over terrorism offences, the panel was told.
Police discovered £4,670 in a safe at her address in 2018 which was intended to fund terror attacks.
The money was forfeited under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and Ms Sebbagh was also ordered to pay costs of £12,654.
During a police interview on May 8 2018, Ms Sebbagh said she regularly donated to good causes including Muslim charities as part of her faith and denied making payments to those linked to terrorism.
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.”
The panel also heard Ms Sebbagh had “strongly-held views” that violent jihad was the “correct interpretation of Islamic teaching”.
She had liked a number of pages on Facebook including those of individuals linked to IS, extremist views and hate speech, and had been trying to radicalise a friend with her beliefs about “violent jihad”.
Ms Sebbagh also sent four “extreme and concerning” videos to someone, one of which would be classified as a criminal offence to disseminate contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006.
Alan Meyrick, on behalf of the Education Secretary, made the decision to ban Ms Sebbagh due to the “seriousness of the allegations found proved against her”.
Ms Sebbagh did not attend the hearing, which took place on December 21.