A man has been convicted of handing over £3,000 to terrorists who went on to carry out devastating attacks in Paris and Brussels. The Belgian man, Zakaria Boufassil, 26, was living in Birmingham at the time of the offence.
He has been found guilty of giving £3,000 to terrorist Mohamed Abrini, who was given the nickname The Man in the Hat, when he was captured in CCTV footage just minutes before he carried out an attack on Brussels airport.
Boufassil had an accomplice, Mohamed Ali Ahmed, 27, who had already pleaded guilty earlier this year. Setting out the case, prosecutors said they had no doubt at all that the cash was provided with the clear intention of helping acts of terrorism to be carried out. It is understood that the money may have been used to pay for firearms and explosives which were used in terror attacks in Paris and Brussels.
The jury, made up of six men and six women, found Boufassil was guilty of the offence of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism. The cash was understood to have come from the British benefits system. Birmingham City Council had carried on paying money into the bank account of another Belgian national, even though he had left the country to join Islamic State in Iraq.
The Brussels Airport attack took place in March this year, killing 32 people from different countries around the world. Three bombers also died in the attack, and many more people were injured when two explosions went off in the international airport. At the same time, a bomb went off in the Maelbeek metro station.
Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beal, who heads up the counter terrorism operation in the West Midland said that the conviction of the pair sent a clear message to people who passed funds onto terrorists that they would face prosecution and long prison sentences. The two men will be sentenced at a later date.