Ugandan Mother and her Daughter Jailed in UK for Sending Money to Terrorist Relative in Syria

Vanessa Atim, a UK-based businesswoman with Ugandan roots, and her mother, Stella Oyella, have been sentenced to prison for financing a relative who joined the terrorist organization, Daesh/ISIS, in Syria.

Atim’s Journey to Uganda for ProIntern: In 2015, Atim traveled to Uganda to promote ProIntern, an application facilitating university graduates’ access to internships.


Counter Terrorism Police Statement: UK’s Counter Terrorism Police revealed that Stella Oyella and Vanessa Atim, both from east London, orchestrated the transfer of over £1,800 to Joseph Ogaba, who joined Daesh in 2014.

Ogaba’s Fate: Syrian authorities reported Ogaba’s death in July 2022 while in prison, following his capture by Syrian Defense Forces.

Evidence of Terrorism Financing: Investigators proved that Oyella and Atim were aware their financial support was aiding Ogaba’s terrorist activities. They meticulously concealed their actions, routing the money through contacts in Uganda and the Middle East.

Conviction and Sentencing: After a complex investigation, Oyella received a three-year prison sentence, while Atim was sentenced to three years and nine months.

Character Defense: Despite the convictions, defenders portrayed Oyella as a dedicated care professional and Atim as a nurturing individual committed to life.

Counter Terrorism Efforts: Commander Dominic Murphy emphasized the importance of international cooperation in uncovering and prosecuting individuals supporting terrorist activities.

Discovery of Terrorism Financing: Counter-terrorism powers enabled authorities to uncover how Ogaba’s family members were financially aiding him.

Legal Proceedings: Oyella and Atim were charged in October 2022 and found guilty of terrorist fundraising in December 2023 after a trial at the Old Bailey.

Judge’s Perspective: Justice Dennis acknowledged their lack of ideological motivation but emphasized their complicity in supporting terrorism.

Call for Vigilance: The judge highlighted the seriousness of terrorism-related offenses and the importance of preventing such violence in a peaceful society.

Atim’s Background: Atim’s upbringing and education in the UK contrasted with her unexpected return to Uganda to support internship programs.

Family Connections: Atim stayed with her uncle, Sam Engola, a former state minister for Housing, during her time in Uganda.

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