Pair guilty of giving cash to Brussels bomb suspect 'the man in the hat'

Two Birmingham men have been found guilty of giving money to the Brussels bombing suspect known as "the man in the hat".

Zakaria Boufassil and Mohammed Ali Ahmed supplied £3,000 to Mohamed Abrini - who was caught on CCTV at Brussels airport just before the devastating bombing.

The atrocity on March 22 this year killed 32 people and injured more than 300.

A jury at London's Kingston Crown Court found Boufassil, 26, guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation of acts of terrorism.

Ahmed had already pleaded guilty to the same charge at the start of the trial.

Abrini, 31, was arrested in Belgium in April and accused of "participating in terrorist acts" linked to the Brussels Zaventem Airport suicide bombing.

The Belgian Moroccan is also wanted by French authorities for the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris in which 130 people died.

During a visit to the UK, Abrini is said to have scoped out the Old Trafford football stadium, the Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester and Birmingham's Bullring as possible terror targets.

Despite this, Abrini claims that "neither in London, nor in Birmingham, nor in Manchester" had he been on any "reconnaissance trips in relation to preparatory terrorist attacks".

Between 9 and 16 July 2015, £3,000 cash was handed over by the pair. Credit: West Midlands Police

He also said there was no plan to attack England because the country has a "more developed secret service" as well as "better observation techniques".

The court heard the money Boufassil and Ahmed handed over was taken from an account held by Anouar Haddouchi, an associate of Ahmed who previously lived in Birmingham and had travelled to Syria to fight for Islamic State.

The account contained overpaid housing benefits totalling £5,413 which had been paid between December 21, 2014, and November 1, 2015.

Tributes left in the Place de la Bourse, Brussels, following the attacks Credit: PA

Ahmed used a replacement debit card for the account to make 17 withdrawals between May 30 and June 30, 2015, and £3,000 of the cash was handed to Abrini in Small Heath Park, Birmingham, on July 11 last year.

Prosecuting Max Hill QC said: "The intention could not be more clear. Haddouchi had left the UK to fight for Daesh in Syria. Abrini had come to collect the money in the UK."

He said there was "no doubt" the money was handed over with the intention of assisting acts of terrorism.

Boufassil and Ahmed will be sentenced on December 12.