Libyan refugee found guilty of Syria terror offences


A Libyan refugee has been convicted of terror offences after helping an RAF veteran who converted to Islam try to join jihadis in Syria.

Stephen Gray, who served in the Iraq War, attempted to reach Syria on two separate occasions in July 2014.

The 32-year-old, also known as Mustafa, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Terrorism Act last year, it can now be reported.

Abdalraouf Abdallah, 22, who uses a wheelchair after being shot in Libya, was found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court on Wednesday of helping Gray and three others get to Syria.

He did not react as the jury of six men and six women returned the verdicts.

Judge Christopher Kinch adjourned sentencing on a date to be announced and said: "There is another defendant who needs to be brought into the equation.

"The man, Stephen Gray, is before the court and is to come back before the court for consideration of sentence in his case."

Abdallah also tried to arrange firearms for three men and sent £2,000 to his brother, Mohammed Abdallah, for terrorist purposes.

Mohammed went to Syria in June 2014 and planned to meet Gray there.

Prosecutor Max Hill QC said one of Abdallah's contacts in Brussels, known only as Obaida, was "facilitating the movements of terrorists across mainland Europe".

He accused him of being "at the centre of a jihadist network facilitating foreign fighters".

"You were intent upon sending fighters to join groups in Syria who were committing terrorist acts in that country," he added.

Abdallah, who came to the UK with his family as refugees in 1993, exchanged dozens of messages with Gray over Skype, Viber and WhatsApp about his travel in the months before July 2014.

The pair had apparently known each other for seven or eight years after they met playing football together in Manchester.

Gray, of Greater Manchester, served as a gunner in No 2 Squadron of the RAF Regiment, protecting airfields and aircraft, and was stationed in Baghdad in 2004.

He was born to Christian parents and converted to Islam after his time in the British military.

He had his own cleaning company and two wives, under sharia law, who live in Manchester, and he is also a father.

Gray allegedly had a contact in Syria, whom he met at an Arabic university in Egypt, and tried to get to the country by air via Turkey and overground across Europe.

He arrested in November 2014 and pleaded guilty to preparing to commit acts of terrorism, assisting another in committing acts of terrorism and funding terrorism.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, of Greater Manchester Police, said Gray was not arrested at Manchester Airport after his first attempt to get to Syria because there was not enough evidence.

"We do try and stop people getting to Syria for obvious reasons, the reason being if they get training and they get experience and they come back to the UK," he added.

"We have seen this playing out on the streets of Paris and in Brussels.

"Daesh do want to attack the West and the UK is one of the targets that they will do so people who are trained, who are familiar with weapons, become potential threats."

Abdallah insisted he hated IS and was acting as a "Royal Mail messenger" passing information between his friends and brother in Syria.

Abdallah, of Moss Side in Greater Manchester, was found guilty of preparation of acts of terrorism and funding terrorism.

Judge Kinch released Abdallah on bail but warned him that imprisonment is the most likely sentence.

"I have to say it is an exceptional case and you must not read into it that anything other than a prison sentence is going to follow in light of the jury's verdicts," he added.

Abdallah has been electronically tagged, is the subject of a curfew and has had both his passports confiscated by the police.