Three terror suspect accused of meeting ‘the man in the hat’ Mohammed Abrini months before he launched attacks in Paris and Brussels, will face a trial.
Mohammed Ali Ahmed, 26, plus brother and sister Zakaria Boufassil, 26, and Soumaya Boufassil, 29, appeared in court charged with planning to travel to Syria and fund terrorism when they handed £3,000 to Abrini at the meeting.
All three were arrested in Birmingham last month and questioned by West Midlands anti-terror squad detectives.
Ahmed and Zakaria Boufassil are accused of supplying £3,000 for terrorism activities on or before July 7 last year.
Ahmed is also accused with Soumaya Boufassil of withdrawing the money and handing it over to Mohamad Abrini in Birmingham between January 1 2015 and April 8 this year.
Abrini was arrested in May in connection with the Paris attacks in November and the Belgium attacks in March, and was dubbed “the man in the hat” after CCTV from Zaventem airport showed one of the prime suspects.
Ahmed and Soumaya Boufassil planned to travel to Syria so she could meet up with her husband Abdelatif Gaini, who is currently fighting in Syria with ISIS.
Mother-of-two Soumaya, who is a Belgian national, also took £16,000 from three bank accounts as part of her attempt to get to war-torn Syria, it is alleged.
All three defendants are all from the Small Heath area of Birmingham and have links to Belgium, Turkey and Morocco.
Ahmed appeared via video link was wearing a blue and white hooped jumper and with a bald head and beard, Zakaria Boufassil wore a dark blue jumper and Soumaya Boufassil did not appear at the Old Bailey today.
She was at a family hearing to determine who they should stay with while she is on remand and an application for a date for the hearing will be heard on Monday.
They had a French interpreter to help them understand proceedings, but Ahmed spoke good English as he confirmed his name saying, “hello, that’s me”, when asked by the clerk if he was Mohammed Ahmed.
Karen Robinson, prosecuting, said: “There is a huge quantity of telecoms and electronic evidence that the prosecution say shows the trade craft of the defendants.
“Many of the items don’t contain a huge amount of information individually, but all together the high volume shows how the operations were conducted.”
An application to sever Soumaya from her co-defendants so that she would have a separate trial, but Mr Justice Saunders said that would need to be decided a plea and case management hearing on October 4.
Mr Justice Saunders said: “It’s going to be header by a high court judge and we will be able to find one in September it the date will have to be flexible on the exact time.”
A provisional date for a trial was set for November 14 with a plea and case management hearing on October 4.
The trio were among five people arrested by Metropolitan Police Service’s Counter Terrorism Command in raids on April 14 and 15.
The investigation was part of a joint investigation into the Paris and Brussels terror attacks involving MI5, as well as the Belgian and French authorities called Operation Yawler.
A fourth man, Fazal Sajjad Younis Khan, 40, also from Small Heath, has been charged with possession of CS spray.
A 59-year-old man remains on bail with strict conditions while the investigation continues.
Ahmed and the Boufassil will next appear in court at The Old Bailey on May 13.
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