Senegalese woman at centre of alleged terror financing, court hears

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The wife of a Senegalese man accused of fighting alongside Boko Haram admitted in court on Wednesday to handling large movements of cash that prosecutors said came from the head of a Nigerian jihadist group.

Coumba Niang, 34, is one of the two wives of Makhtar Diokhane, the chief defendant in the trial of 29 people including three women accused of terrorist conspiracy, financing terrorism and money laundering.

Before Diokhane left for Nigeria, he "gave me money that I didn't count," Niang said, adding that she gave the money to associates of her husband as instructed.

A co-defendant, Ibrahima Diallo, said she had given him $27 000 when he returned to Senegal from Nigeria.

Prosecutors said a raid of Niang's home had turned up 14 500 euros in 500-euro bills as well as "documents related to jihad".

The papers gave details of "techniques and strategies for fighting and destabilising a state", "techniques for abduction and killing".

Prosecutors said they also found books "legitimising summary executions".

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The prosecution says Niang told investigators that Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau had given money to her husband, but she did not confirm the assertion in court.

Some money was for Diokhan'es collaborators and some "to finance work that was to be done in Senegal", said prosecutor Ali Cire Ndiaye.

The defendants are accused of wanting to set up a jihadist base in Senegal.

Diokhane was with Boko Haram in Nigeria before his arrest in 2015 in neighbouring Niger in a counterfeiting case, then transferred to Senegal.

Known for its religious tolerance, Senegal is more than 90 percent Muslim.

While it has so far been spared from the jihadist attacks that have plagued other West African countries, it has stepped up security outside hotels and public buildings.

Boko Haram, a militant movement opposed to Western influence and seeking an Islamic state based on Sharia law, has caused the deaths of at least 20 000 people since it took up arms in 2009 in Nigeria.

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