January 19, 2019 / 3:50 PM / 10 months ago

Bulgaria charges six after terrorism financing arrests

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian prosecutors have charged five Syrian citizens and a Bulgarian woman alleged to be members of a crime group which had sent more than 25 million euros ($28 million) to foreign terrorist organizations since 2016.

Bulgarian special police forces arrested 43 people on Friday in coordinated raids on a suspected terrorism financing ring. [L8N1ZI3RN]

Rumyana Arnaudova, the chief prosecutor’s spokeswoman, said on Saturday one of the six accused, who were all residents of Bulgaria, had been indicted in absentia and an international arrest warrant issued for him.

The crime group had been operating in Bulgaria since 2016 and had indirectly financed a terrorist organization operating in another state, Arnaudova said without giving more detail.

She said the financing had been carried out across the border through a traditional Muslim “hawala”, an informal trading system based on trust and personal ties.

The group had also bought at least 100 cars in Bulgaria and transported them through Turkey to Syria, where they were provided to members of terrorist organizations, Arnaudova said.

Deputy Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev said on Friday that the financing for the terrorist organizations had been sent abroad and did not represent a direct terrorist threat within Bulgaria.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by David Holmes

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