Brussels bombing suspect 'said there was no plan for UK terror attack'

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The Brussels bombing suspect told Belgian authorities there was no plan for a terror attack in the UK and denied he had made "reconnaissance trips", a court has heard.

Mohamed Abrini, known as the "man in the hat", is alleged to have received a £3,000 cash payment from defendant Zakaria Boufassil, 26, together with Mohammed Ali Ahmed, when he travelled to Britain from Syria and Turkey.

A jury at Kingston Crown Court in south-west London heard a transcript from an interview with Abrini, conducted in French by judicial police officer and investigator Marc Simar and Olivier Dochain, on April 21 2016.

He told them: "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."

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.

"I'd also like to point out it's not my group, as stated in your question."

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

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