COUNTER terrorism police arrested five men from Yorkshire this morning on suspicion of fraud as part of a probe into an organisation claiming to be a Syrian aid charity.
Officers from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit conducted dawn raids across West and South Yorkshire.
Those arrested are said to be a 32 year old man from Halifax, a 33 year old from Dewsbury, a 38 year old from Sheffield, a 43 year old from Dewsbury, and a 53 year old from Halifax.
Six properties and a business premises across South and West Yorkshire are also being searched as part of the investigation.
The five men have been taken to police stations in South and West Yorkshire for questioning.
The arrests and searches across West and South Yorkshire took place from 6.30am this morning.
It is understood that the alleged fraud involves a substantial sum of money.
In Savile Town, Dewsbury, where police arrested two men, the searches were completed by 12.30pm today.
At the home of one of the men who was arrested, a woman shouted through the letterbox, telling The Yorkshire Post to go away, adding: “We are guilty of nothing. Get off my property.”
At a nearby retail outlet, which was also searched by police, a member of staff denied that officers had visited but he then laughed and walked into a back room.
Residents said that they were aware of the potential for fraud by those collecting for the Syrian crisis.
Mohammad Afsar, 62, a retired textile worker who lives in South Street, Savile Town, said he wasn’t aware of the fraud investigation but he wasn’t surprised by it.
He believes that some charity collectors are ignorant of the laws.
“People need to abide by the rules and regulations. Since anti-terrorism laws came into force and money laundering laws, people need to be careful. If they are doing any charity works it needs to be done properly.”
He added: “I have seen people not doing things properly - the people who are doing these charity works are not aware of the law or the rules applied by the Charity Commission.”
Farook Yunis, of community group Kumon Y’all, said police had recently visited the local mosque in Savile Town to warn people to be careful that they donated only to legitimate charities.
He added: “Most people who have given money have given it to the right people. If there is one bad apple, it spoils it for everybody.”