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UK Pair Linked to Brussels and Paris Attacks Suspect Jailed

(AFP) – Two men who gave money to Brussels and Paris terror attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini when he visited Britain last year were jailed Monday for up to eight years.

Mohammed Ali Ahmed and Zakaria Boufassil gave £3,000 ($3,770, 3,550 euros) in cash to Abrini in the central English city of Birmingham in July 2015, with the knowledge that it would be used for terrorism.

Ahmed, a 27-year-old from Birmingham, had pleaded guilty to the offence last month. Boufassil, a 26-year-old Belgian citizen also from Birmingham, denied it but was found guilty by a jury last week.

Ahmed was given eight years in jail and Boufassil, who had claimed he was used by his accomplice, received a three-year jail sentence.

Boufassil had admitted meeting Abrini in a Birmingham park and holding the money for Ahmed, but said he had “no idea” of its intended use. However, the jury decided otherwise.

Abrini was dubbed the “man in the hat” after his image was caught on security cameras before the Brussels attacks in March, which left 32 people dead.

He is in custody in Belgium, but is also suspected of providing support for the Paris attacks in November 2015, in which 130 people died.

Boufassil’s trial heard that Abrini had told Belgian investigators how he was told by a cell in Syria to visit Britain and collect the money.

The cash was withdrawn from the bank account of an associate of Ahmed, Anwar Haddouchi, who had travelled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State group.

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