UK: Two Britons Suspected for Funding Brussels Attacks Jailed
Kingston Crown Court in London Monday sentenced Zakaria Boufassil and Mohammed Ali Ahmed respectively to three and eight years in prison for giving secretly £3,000 in cash to Mohamed Abrini in a Birmingham park last year, British Sky news reports.
Abrini, a 31-year old Belgian, has been linked to Brussels March attacks after CCTV footage showed him wearing a hat. He has been arrested and accused of helping attackers at Brussels airport and metro.
The secret meeting reportedly took place months before Paris November attacks which killed 130 people. According to the court, Abrini was sent to collect the money on behalf of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks.
Police and court believe that money was used to buy guns used in the Brussels attacks.
Boussafil, aged 26, was handed an additional one year on silence. The court accused him of “engaging in preparation of acts of terrorism”.
Ali Ahmed, 27 also was sentenced extra one year on silence. He pleaded guilty. The court also found him guilty of attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group (IS). According to the court, Ahmed also engaged his sister Soumaya in his secret trip to Syria.
British authorities were able to identify Boussafil and Ahmed after Abrini admitted to Belgian police he met both men to collect money.
Abrini also admitted he had taken a picture of Manchester United’s ground at Old Trafford, as well as shopping centers and casinos around Birmingham. However, he denied to have taken the picture for potential terrorist plans.
He reportedly told police that the British capital “is too well protected for attacks”.
“I think England has a more developed secret service, better observation techniques. And it’s therefore more difficult to attack.”