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Former beauty queen who married Islamist fighter goes on trial

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Former WAG Amaani Noor (pictured above) has denied one count of funding terrorism

Former WAG Amaani Noor (pictured above) has denied one count of funding terrorism

Former WAG Amaani Noor (pictured above) has denied one count of funding terrorism

A one-time WAG and former beauty queen whose dream was ‘to marry a fighter’ has gone on trial accused of funding terrorism.

Amaani Noor is accused of providing money to a group called ‘The Merciful Hands’.

The 21-year-old, a former Miss Teen Great Britain semi-finalist, is alleged to have given £35.92 to the organisation, which funded anti-government fighters in Syria.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how Noor had contacted another woman, Victoria Webster, to arrange a Paypal transfer on May 23, 2018.

Diana Wilson, prosecuting, told the court that Noor had sent ‘extensive messages showing interest in and support for extremist organisations’ and her husband is an Islamist fighter.

Noor, who once dated a Liverpool winger, also showed support for Sharia law and discussed the ‘merits’ of IS, it’s claimed.

The 21-year-old (pictured above outside court earlier this year) was alleged to have provided around £35 to The Merciful Hands

The 21-year-old (pictured above outside court earlier this year) was alleged to have provided around £35 to The Merciful Hands

The 21-year-old (pictured above outside court earlier this year) was alleged to have provided around £35 to The Merciful Hands 

Phones seized from her home showed she’d used an app called Telegram, which allows users to engage in encrypted chats, leave voice notes, make calls and send files.

She’d contacted Webster, who used the name @iwouldliketobeunknown, in April, last year, and also followed a Merciful Hands channel using the app, as well as those of other organisations including Insights in Sham.

Ms Wilson said the pair discussed ‘the merits of the proscribed organisations HTS (Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) and IS (Islamic State) and which group is closest to Haqq (the truth).’

Webster sent Noor two links to a Telegram channel related to extremist preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki as well as a voice note which said ‘it is OK to kill apostates [non-believers] by the Sharia and they have to be killed and you are obliged to kill them’.

Noor later sent Webster a voice note saying she ‘hasn’t got a problem with people being killed justly if they refuse to do certain things according to Islam’.

The pair were also found to have extremist videos showing tortures and executions, the court heard.

One video on Noor’s devices showed an ambush on a desert highway, vehicles being shot, and the captured occupants being brutally tortured and executed.

Another showed a man having his throat cut and then being beheaded, while an IS propaganda video showed people in orange jumpsuits apparently about to be executed.

Noor also contacted a man she referred to as ‘Hakim my Love’ on Telegram and he later sent her a message declaring it his ‘first as her husband’.

He described himself as an ‘independent fighter’ and urges her not to ‘say anything stupid over the internet cos I can bring you a lot of problems’.

Ms Wilson told the court that the Merciful Hands Telegram channel contained references to ‘brothers’ needing barudas (guns or rifles), clothing and other equipment for the war in Syria.

Webster and Noor exchanged several messages about sending money to Islamist fighters before Noor set-up a Paypal account using the name Margaret Allen, from which she made the $45.51 payment to the group, it’s claimed.

She’s said to have asked whether the money would go to ‘a fighter’ or ‘an ex-fighter who has a family’.

Noor was arrested in November, last year, and emails on two mobiles seized by anti-terror police showed she had considered travelling to Syria to join her fighter husband but was having second thoughts.

‘I hate talking like this cause its like ERM amaani girl you should’ve thought about all this before, and I did trust me I knew what I was getting myself into,’ she wrote.

‘Its been my dream to marry a fighter for a long time and my dream to be a fighter myself even longer lol.’

Noor from Wavertree, Liverpool, denies one count of terrorism fundraising.

According to the charge, she gave the money ‘knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect it may be used for the purpose of terrorism’.

She refused to comment in police interviews but later claimed in statements that she believed the money was going to the ‘victims of civil war such as women and children’.

‘I believed the donation was for humanitarian aid. I saw the images of poor looking children and women with basic necessities on the Merciful Hands telegram channel,’ she said.

Co-accused Victoria Webster, 28, from Lancashire, previously admitted three counts of terrorism fundraising between March and August last year.

She pleaded guilty in June to inviting Noor to provide money to the Merciful Hands, ‘intending it should be used or having reasonable cause to suspect it may be used for the purpose of terrorism’.

Webster also admitted giving the same group £17.97 ($22.77) between April 22 and May 6, and £29.34 ($37.24) between March 24 and August 14.

She’s due to sentenced following Noor’s trial.

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FBI hunt for missing Saudi serviceman after Pensacola Naval base shooting

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The FBI is reportedly hunting for several Saudi students from Navy Station Pensacola, after they vanished in the wake of Friday’s mass shooting at the base. 

Fellow Saudi Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani, 21, killed three and wounded 12 others in the attack before he was shot dead by police.

According to AP, investigators have now detained 10 Saudi military students from the base – a number revised up from six – but several others remain unaccounted for. 

Authorities have not revealed the number of Saudi students they are still looking for, and it’s unclear why they have not come forward to police.  

It follows chilling new details emerging in the wake of Friday morning’s shooting, including news that three Saudi serviceman joined al-Shamrani for a dinner party the night before the attack to watch videos of mass shootings. 

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that al-Shamrani and three other Saudi students traveled from Pensacola to New York last week, where they visited several museums and are thought to have watched the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony. 

The tree lighting, attended by thousands of people, took place on Wednesday evening – just 36 hours before the shootings occurred. 

Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani, 21, killed three and wounded 12 others in the attack before he was shot dead by police. This picture was released by the FBI on Saturday evening

Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani, 21, killed three and wounded 12 others in the attack before he was shot dead by police. This picture was released by the FBI on Saturday evening

Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani, 21, killed three and wounded 12 others in the attack before he was shot dead by police. This picture was released by the FBI on Saturday evening

Joshua Kaleb Watson (pictured) and Mohammed Haitham have been named as two of the victims of Friday's tragedy

Joshua Kaleb Watson (pictured) and Mohammed Haitham have been named as two of the victims of Friday's tragedy

Mohammed Haitham is pictured

Mohammed Haitham is pictured

Joshua Kaleb Watson (left) and Mohammed Haitham (right) have been named as two of the victims of Friday’s tragedy 

The New York Times reports that al-Shamrani and three other Saudi students traveled from Pensacola to New York to watch the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday evening

The New York Times reports that al-Shamrani and three other Saudi students traveled from Pensacola to New York to watch the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday evening

The New York Times reports that al-Shamrani and three other Saudi students traveled from Pensacola to New York to watch the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday evening

According to one source, investigators are looking into the motive for the trip to the city and whether or not they met with anyone there. 

It has also been reported that one Saudi student allegedly videotaped al-Shamrani’s  attack, while two others watched from a nearby car. It’s believed that those three Saudis are among the 10 who have been detained. 

On Saturday night, military bases across the country were put on high alert following Friday’s shooting and a separate, unrelated attack at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Wednesday.

According to Fox News, US Northern Command, also known as NORTHCOM, sent out an advisory calling for an increase in security checks.

The FBI Evidence Response Team is pictured continuing their methodical search for clues at the base on Saturday

The FBI Evidence Response Team is pictured continuing their methodical search for clues at the base on Saturday

The FBI Evidence Response Team is pictured continuing their methodical search for clues at the base on Saturday

Naval Air Station Pensacola  will remain closed until further notice, officials said Saturday. The classroom where the shooting took place is pictured

Naval Air Station Pensacola  will remain closed until further notice, officials said Saturday. The classroom where the shooting took place is pictured

Naval Air Station Pensacola  will remain closed until further notice, officials said Saturday. The classroom where the shooting took place is pictured

‘Given the recent attacks at two military installations, the Commander, US Northern Command has directed all DoD [Defense Department] installations, facilities and units within the US Northern Command area of responsibility to immediately assess force protection measures and implement increased random security measures appropriate for their facilities,’ Lieutenant Commander Michael Hatfield told Fox News.

‘The advisory also told leaders to remind their workforce to remain alert and if they see something, to say something by immediately reporting to appropriate authorities any suspicious activity they may observe,’ Hatfield said. 

Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani was a Saudi aviator training at the U.S. naval station

Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani was a Saudi aviator training at the U.S. naval station

Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani was a Saudi aviator training at the U.S. naval station

al-Shamrani was a second lieutenant attending the aviation school at Navy Station Pensacola.  The Pentagon say his training with the US military began in August 2016, and was due to finish in August 2020.  

One of al-Shamrani’s uncles told CNN on Saturday that he was shocked by the attack, as his nephew was ‘likable and mannered towards his family and the community’.  

‘He had his religion, his prayer, his honesty and commitments’, the uncle stated.  

al- Shamrani’s disturbing Twitter account and his pre-shooting ‘manifesto’ 

The now-deactivated Twitter account purportedly belonging to al- Shamrani included:

– A variety of anti-Israel postings and a quote from deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden

– A lengthy manifesto posted at 4:39am  Friday, less than two hours the shooting. The manifesto read in part:

 I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil.

‘I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because [of] your freedoms, I hate you because every day you [are] supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims, but also humanity….

Meanwhile, it’s been revealed that al-Shamrani used a handgun in the shooting, which he purchased from a dealer in Pensacola. 

Non-citizens are prohibited from purchasing guns in the United States, unless they are equipped with a hunting license. 

According to NBC, al-Shamrani was equipped with such a license. 

The gun has been described as a Glock 45 9-millimeter handgun with an extended magazine. 

al-Sharami allegedly had four to six other magazines in his possession at the time of his shooting. 

Elsewhere, the FBI is examining social media posts and investigating whether al-Shamrani acted alone or was connected to any broader group. 

On Friday evening, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist media, claimed they had tracked a Twitter account belonging to al- Shamrani which featured a disturbing manifesto written just hours before the shooting.   

Investigators are working to determine if it was in fact written by the shooter. 

On Saturday, President Donald Trump told reporters: ‘We’re finding out what took place, whether it’s one person or a number of people. We’ll get to the bottom of it very quickly.’

He had faced criticism on Friday evening for his initial response to the shooting, which perceived as a defense of Saudi Arabia. 

After news of the shooting broke, Trump tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims and noted that he had received a phone call from Saudi King Salman.

‘The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people,’ Trump wrote.  

SAUDI ARABIA’S TERROR LINK 

15 of the 19 men associated with the al-Qaeda 9/11 attacks were Saudi citizens. A number of them received their aviation training at bases in the US. 

al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, hailed from a prominent Saudi family.  

The US investigated some Saudi diplomats and others with Saudi government ties who knew hijackers after they arrived in the US, according to documents that have been declassified.

The Saudi government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks. 

The 9/11 Commission report found ‘no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded’ the attacks that al-Qaeda masterminded, but the commission also noted ‘the likelihood’ that Saudi government-sponsored charities did.  

In 2017, families of 800 victims and 1,500 first responders file a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia accusing the country’s officials of aiding hijackers in 9/11 attacks. The lawsuit is ongoing.

Saudi Arabia is the richest and geographically largest Middle Eastern country – and a key US ally.

According to the State Department, Saudi Arabia is the second leading source of imported oil for the United States, providing just under one million barrels per day of oil to the US market    

 Saudi money is also widely invested in the US, with billions of private cash invested on Wall Street and beyond.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the ruling al-Saud family, has stakes in a huge range of big  businesses including Citigroup, 21st Century Fox, and the Plaza Hotel in New York.  

Many the country’s citizens also come to study at US colleges, with Saudis the fourth-largest source of foreign students, trailing only China, India and South Korea, according to The New York Times.  

The US has long had a robust training program for Saudis, with 852 Saudi nationals currently in the country  training under the Pentagon’s security cooperation agreement.   

15 of the 19 men associated with the al-Qaeda 9/11 attacks were Saudi citizens. A number of them received their aviation training at bases in the US 

However, Saudi Arabia was not one of the seven countries included in President Trump’s 2017  ‘travel ban’   

One of the Navy’s most historic and storied bases, Naval Air Station Pensacola sprawls along the waterfront southwest of the city’s downtown and dominates the economy of the surrounding area. 

Part of the base resembles a college campus, with buildings where 60,000 members of the Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard train each year in multiple fields of aviation.

The base is also the home of the Navy’s revered Blue Angels aerial demonstration team  

Weapons are not allowed on the base Naval Air Station Pensacola, which will remain closed until further notice. 

The shooting is the second at a U.S. naval base this week. A sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, opened fire on three civilian employees Wednesday, killing two before taking his own life. 

Emergency responders are seen near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola on Friday. Three people were killed by a Saudi gunman, who was taken down by sheriff's deputies

Emergency responders are seen near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola on Friday. Three people were killed by a Saudi gunman, who was taken down by sheriff's deputies

Emergency responders are seen near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola on Friday. Three people were killed by a Saudi gunman, who was taken down by sheriff’s deputies

 

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Nurse with a flair for home renovation reveals how she transformed her fireplace for $200

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A full-time paediatric nurse has become a glorified ‘renovation queen’ on social media after purchasing a range of DIY projects she completed on her linen cupboard, fridge, side walkway and fireplace. 

Jessica Micallef, 29, runs the popular Instagram account ‘The House That Jess Built‘, which shares daily photos of household products and decoration ideas to spice up your property. 

The Melbourne-based blogger and her partner Izz bought their house on December 7, 2017, after saving up for 16 months, with the intention of bringing it to life with careful renovation work and decluttering.

Jessica Micallef runs popular Instagram account 'The House That Jess Built', which shares daily photos of household products and decoration ideas

Jessica Micallef runs popular Instagram account 'The House That Jess Built', which shares daily photos of household products and decoration ideas

Jessica Micallef runs popular Instagram account ‘The House That Jess Built’, which shares daily photos of household products and decoration ideas

Before it was a mess of different bricks

Before it was a mess of different bricks

In the four months since she renovated it there have been little to no weeds

In the four months since she renovated it there have been little to no weeds

Jessica reorganised the side of their house with some stones and pavers in a single weekend

If you’re looking to follow in their footsteps, Jessica recommends being practical above all else – and only keeping things you need or what you use.

‘For the linen closet have a box, container or basket for everything and give each of them a category,’ she told FEMAIL.

‘It’s easier to put away, even for little ones in the family. It’s practical. The linen closet hasn’t changed since we’ve done it.’

For the fridge Jessica recommends purchasing clear containers from Kmart and having a compartment for each food group.

'For the linen closet have a box, container or basket for everything and give each of them a category,' she told FEMAIL

'For the linen closet have a box, container or basket for everything and give each of them a category,' she told FEMAIL

‘For the linen closet have a box, container or basket for everything and give each of them a category,’ she told FEMAIL

For the fridge Jessica recommends purchasing clear containers from Kmart and having a compartment for each food group

For the fridge Jessica recommends purchasing clear containers from Kmart and having a compartment for each food group

For the fridge Jessica recommends purchasing clear containers from Kmart and having a compartment for each food group

She also has one labelled ‘use first’ for things she has already opened or half eaten, so you’re not looking for mouldy pieces of fruit at the back.  

‘Similar to the fridge, I was always being so wasteful with food and I wanted to stop that so I used shoe boxes from the Reject Shop and placed them in the freezer,’ she said.

‘It’s never been easier to manage and I can see everything I have when I open the freezer. No hidden items at all.’

'Similar to the fridge, I was always being so wasteful with food and I wanted to stop that so I used shoe boxes from the Reject Shop and placed them in the freezer,' she said

'Similar to the fridge, I was always being so wasteful with food and I wanted to stop that so I used shoe boxes from the Reject Shop and placed them in the freezer,' she said

‘Similar to the fridge, I was always being so wasteful with food and I wanted to stop that so I used shoe boxes from the Reject Shop and placed them in the freezer,’ she said

Jessica transformed her fireplace with $200 and two days up her sleeve

Jessica transformed her fireplace with $200 and two days up her sleeve

Jessica transformed her fireplace with $200 and two days up her sleeve

Jessica even ventured down the side of the house and decided to make it neater over the course of a weekend, turning it into something ‘pretty and easy to maintain.’

Four months later and there are still no weeds sprouting between the stones.  

More recently the happy couple partook in a $200 two day challenge with other renovators on Instagram, choosing to re-do their fireplace.

It went from a dark and cluttered spot to house leftover boxes and a bike into a comfortable sitting room with an all-white paint job.

‘We watch a lot of YouTube or Google something if we aren’t sure,’ she said of the process.

Jessica’s five best organisation tips: 

1. Divide everything into categories that suit your home and needs per room. 

2. Buy boxes and containers for your space and allocate a category per box.

3. Don’t hold on to things you ‘might’ use. If you don’t use it, give it to someone who does.

4. Labels! They’re super fun, but they’re also practical for others in the house to know what goes where. The Label Store are my go to.

5. If everything has a home, you’ll never have clutter. Clutter free home = clutter free mind.  

‘But a lot of it comes down to just giving it a go. Worst case it doesn’t work out, but what if it does? 

‘I love being able to empower people to believe in themselves  and have the courage to try something new or give it a go. It makes me incredibly happy to inspire others.’

Jessica tends to visit her local Kmart, Target, Big W, Ikea and Bunnings stores for supplies or low-cost furniture items, or she’ll reupholster a product from a thrift shop.

It went from a dark and cluttered spot to house leftover boxes and a bike into a comfortable sitting room with an all-white paint job

It went from a dark and cluttered spot to house leftover boxes and a bike into a comfortable sitting room with an all-white paint job

It went from a dark and cluttered spot to house leftover boxes and a bike into a comfortable sitting room with an all-white paint job

'We watch a lot of YouTube or Google something if we aren't sure,' she said of the process

'We watch a lot of YouTube or Google something if we aren't sure,' she said of the process

‘We watch a lot of YouTube or Google something if we aren’t sure,’ she said of the process

She believes spraying furniture white will instantly help it to look brand new, which is why the majority of her home has been brightened with the fail-safe shade

She believes spraying furniture white will instantly help it to look brand new, which is why the majority of her home has been brightened with the fail-safe shade

She believes spraying furniture white will instantly help it to look brand new, which is why the majority of her home has been brightened with the fail-safe shade

She believes spraying furniture white will instantly help it to look brand new, which is why the majority of her home has been brightened with the fail-safe shade. 

But Jessica does occasionally spend good money on her resources, so long as she knows they are worth the price she is paying.

‘I tend to find something and sit on it for a few hours or days,’ she said.

‘If I’m still thinking about how much I love it, then I get it. I like to support small business, sometimes it’s a bit of extra cash; but I don’t mind if it means I love the product and someone behind the brand name gets to do a little happy dance.’

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Twin sisters hike for help after their dad Corey Simmons is killed in horrific Washington car crash

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Twin 4-year-old girls climbed out of the wreckage of a deadly crash in and climbed up a 60-metre embankment to seek help.

The sisters freed themselves from their car seats after the fatal crash on Whidbey Island in the US state of Washington on Saturday (local time).

A motorist passed the pair on the winding road Friday and turned around and stopped to help before raising the alarm.

The driver was identified as their 47-year-old father, Corey Simmons

He is understood to be their father. It’s believed he was not wearing a seatbelt at the time.

Corey Simmons with his twin daughters.

The twin’s mother, Esther Crider, said the girls, who were hospitalised with minor injuries, are traumatised by what happened.

She shared a heartbreaking photo of the girls with their dad, taken last week when the family cut down their own Christmas tree for the first time.

Rebecah Crider is Esther Crider’s daughter and Simmons’ stepdaughter. She said her family is searching for the Good Samaritan who helped her sisters after the crash.

“We are so incredibly thankful, and we are desperately looking for who she is,” Rebecah Crider said. “We would love to personally meet her and thank her.”

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Those close to the family described Simmons as a great man and father.

A GoFundMe page has been started to help the heartbroken family cover his funeral costs.

With NBC.

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