Brussels bombing suspect denied plan to attack UK

Still from the CCTV footage Image copyright Police Federale
Image caption Mohamed Abrini became known as the "man in the hat" after the Brussels bombings

A suspect in the Brussels bombings told Belgian authorities there was "no plan" for a terror attack in the UK, a court has heard.

Mohamed Abrini, known as the "man in the hat" is alleged to have received £3,000 from defendant Zakaria Boufassil, when he came to the UK in July 2015, Kingston Crown Court heard.

Mr Boufassil denies preparing for acts of terrorism.

A second man, Mohammed Ali Ahmed, has pleaded guilty to the same offence.

Abrini became known as "the man in the hat" following his suspected involvement in the Brussels terror attack in March this year, which killed 32 people at an airport and metro station, the jury heard.

In an interview in April, read out to the jury, Abrini told Belgian police: "On being arrested by you, neither in London, nor in Birmingham, nor in Manchester have I been on any reconnaissance trips in relation to preparatory terrorist attacks."

He added: "There's no plan to target England as a potential site for a terrorist act.

"From what I know, it's France who is declared the enemy of Islamic State.

"I think England has a more developed secret service, better observation techniques, etc... and it's therefore more difficult to attack."

The court heard how when Abrini was quizzed on whether he was hiding information to protect others of "his group" who are in England, he said: "No, not at all.

"There are no other members in England and I am hiding no-one. In my eyes too, those I met in England have nothing to do with the attacks in Paris and/or Brussels."

Abrini is in custody in Belgium and is also wanted over the Paris attacks, the court was told.

Mr Boufassil and Mr Ahmed, both from Birmingham, are charged with supplying "a quantity of sterling currency" to Abrini between 1 June 2014 and 16 April 2016 with the intention of committing or assisting another to commit acts of terrorism.

Mr Boufassil has pleaded not guilty and denies sharing the intention of his co-accused Mr Ahmed, whom the jury has heard admitted the same offence on 8 November.

The trial continues.