North East Wales

Activist Abdurraouf Eshati admits £18.6m arms plot role

Scales of justice

A Libyan activist has admitted his part in an international network plotting an £18.6m deal to bring arms to the war-torn country.

Abdurraouf Eshati, who had an address in Wrexham and was due to stand trial at the Old Bailey, changed his plea.

The 29-year-old admitted collecting information for terrorist purposes on or around 1 December, 2014.

The charge related to two electronic documents on the purchase of ammunition and cargo plane hire.

The court heard the documents outlined a plan to send the huge consignment of ammunition to Libya, via a contact in Italy, in support of the Zintan people of the eastern region.

Eshati was caught trying to get to France in the back of a lorry with 19 other people at the port of Dover in Kent on 30 November last year.

On his mobile phone, police found an invoice from an arms supplier for the sale and delivery of ammunition to Tobruk in Libya and a document about chartering a cargo jet for £163,000 for use in Libya.

Eshati also sent a contact photographs of activists from the militia group Ansar Al Sharia, a beheading and armaments in action, demonstrating his allegiance to the Zintan people.

Police also raided Eshati's address in Wrexham as part of the investigation.

Gaddafi claims

Meanwhile, investigations in Italy revealed the defendant had been caught up in a determined attempt to get arms into Libya in plain contravention of the UN embargo.

But cash for the hire of the cargo jet went missing and the deal was never completed.

Eshati's role was to translate the documents for a friend and senior Libyan Army officer, Ibrahim El-Tumi, who was believed to have brokered the deal.

On his arrest, Eshati told police he had been in Britain since 2009 on a visa and later as an asylum seeker.

He said his father had been a senior figure in the Gaddafi regime and was now in prison in Tripoli while his two brothers had been murdered. However, this was a false claim.

Eshati has also admitted seeking leave to remain in the United Kingdom by deception on or before 14, December 2012, by falsely claiming he was at risk of persecution if returned to Libya.

He is in custody and will be sentenced on Tuesday.