Man involved in 'logistical side of illegal operation to traffic Syrian nationals,' court told

Abdullah Al Younes appeared at the High Court in Belfast. Credit: PA

A man who fled Syria’s civil war allegedly booked flights for an international crime gang smuggling migrants into Great Britain, the High Court in Belfast has heard.

Prosecutors claimed Abdullah Al Younes was involved in the logistical side of an illegal operation to traffic Syrian nationals across Europe.

The 29-year-old, of Agincourt Avenue in Belfast, was among three men arrested last month as part of a Home Office investigation.

He is charged with an offence relating to unlawful immigration of non-UK nationals.

A previous court heard more than 40 Syrians are believed to have been smuggled into Britain via Dublin and Belfast in a three-week period last November.

Smugglers provided identity documents, travel, hotel accommodation and even Covid certification paperwork, it was claimed.

Al Younes was allegedly involved in a limited number of incidents.

At a bail application on Monday, it was claimed that he made some of the travel arrangements and sent money to Turkey, where his family currently lives.

An investigating officer stated: “I believe the role he played in logistics, booking flights, is still quite significant.”

Al Younes, who is seeking permission to remain in the UK, denies any involvement in the trafficking racket.

Defence barrister James Toal told the court his client had been a mathematics student, but fled Syria in 2012 after providing assistance to international journalists covering its civil war.

“That was a matter which made him an undesirable… and finds echoes with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine at present,” counsel said.

Referring to Al Younes alleged role, Mr Toal stressed: “He’s only been linked to a small number of internal UK flights.”

Following submissions Mr Justice Rooney adjourned the bail application.

The judge explained: “I would like more details about his alleged involvement.”