UK pair charged with funding Paris attacks suspect

UK pair charged with funding Paris attacks suspect
Photo: Police
Two UK nationals have been charged with handing over to cash to a suspect in the Paris terror attacks.

Two people appeared in court in London on Friday accused of giving money to Brussels and Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini when he was in Britain last summer.

Mohammed Ali Ahmed, 26, and Zakaria Boufassil, 26, both from Birmingham in central England, are charged with giving £3,000 ($4,400, €3,800 ) to Abrini.

The offence is alleged to have taken place in July 2015.

The pair were remanded in custody and will next appear at the Old Bailey in central London on May 13th.

The charges came after a major counter-terrorism operation in the UK on April 15th that saw five people arrested for alleged terror offences in Britain — including one man stopped at an airport — in an investigation involving French and Belgian authorities.

Four of the arrests — three men aged 26, 40 and 59 and a 29-year-old woman — were in Birmingham in central England on Thursday, while a 26-year-old man was arrested at London Gatwick Airport on Friday.

“This action forms part of an extensive investigation by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, together with the wider counter terrorism network, MI5 and international partners including Belgian and French authorities to address any associated threat to the UK following the attacks in Europe,” senior police officer Marcus Beale said in a statement.

“The arrests were pre-planned and intelligence-led… There was no risk to the public at any time and there is no information to suggest an attack in the UK was being planned,” Beale said, adding that police were searching a number of properties in Birmingham.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted government ministry sources as saying that the arrests were “significant”.

Contacted by AFP, a police spokeswoman declined to comment further including on any possible link to attacks in Belgium last month and in France in November in which a total of 162 people were killed.