Saturday 18 November 2017

Two linked to Brussels bombing suspect to be sentenced for terror offences

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale of West Midlands Police talks about the Zakaria Boufassil trial at Lloyd House in Birmingham. (Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)
Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale of West Midlands Police talks about the Zakaria Boufassil trial at Lloyd House in Birmingham. (Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

Two men linked to Brussels bombing suspect Mohamed Abrini will be sentenced today for terror offences.

Zakaria Boufassil and Mohammed Ali Ahmed supplied £3,000 to Abrini - dubbed "the man in the hat" after he was caught on CCTV at Brussels airport just before the bombing in March this year - during a secret rendezvous in a Birmingham park.

A jury of six men and six women at south west London's Kingston Crown Court found Boufassil, 26, from Birmingham, guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation of acts of terrorism last week.

Ahmed admitted the offence the previous month, while the CPS offered no evidence against Boufassil's sister Soumaya.

Boufassil, 26, admitted during the trial that he had met Abrini in the park, but denied it had anything to do with terrorism and its funding. He also denied sharing the intention of Ahmed, who he insisted "took advantage" of his naivety and "never communicated" his plans.

During the trial, the court heard that money was taken from an account held by Anouar Haddouchi, an associate of Ahmed who previously lived in Birmingham and had travelled to Syria to fight for Islamic State, into which payments of overpaid housing benefits totalling £5,413 had been paid between December 21 2014 and November 1 2015.

Ahmed used a replacement debit card for the account to make 17 withdrawals between May 30 and June 30 2015 - £3,000 of the cash was later handed to Abrini in Small Heath Park in Birmingham.

Abrini, 31, was arrested in Belgium accused of "participating in terrorist acts", related to his role in the Brussels suicide bombings on March 22.

The Belgian Moroccan is also wanted by French authorities for the November 13 2015 attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed.

The duo will be sentenced at Kingston Crown Court.

Press Association

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