The terrorists must have been getting a good laugh about this. It turns out that the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels were partly funded by government benefits paid into a bank account of one of the terrorists.
The benefits continued to be deposited into the account even after the beneficiary had left the country.
Zakaria Bouffassil, 26, from Birmingham is accused of handing over the cash which had been withdrawn from the bank account of Anouar Haddouchi, a Belgian national, who had been claiming benefits while living in the West Midlands with his wife.
Kingston Crown Court heard how thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money continued to be paid into Haddouchi’s bank account, even after he had left Britain for Syria and had begun fighting for Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil).
Mr Bouffassil, 26, who is also originally from Belgium is accused of giving Abrini a large amount of cash during a secretive meeting in a Birmingham park last July.
He was accompanied by Mohamed Ali Ahmed, who has already admitted the charge.
On the opening day of their trial, jurors heard how some of the most notorious and wanted terrorists in Europe had used British taxpayers’ money to fund their activities in Syria and elsewhere.
Max Hill QC, prosecuting, said: “There is no doubt that the money was handed over with the intention of assisting acts of terrorism.”
He went on: “The intention could not be more clear. Haddouchi had left the UK to fight for Daesh in Syria. Abrini came to collect the money in the UK.
“The destination would include Syria and specifically Daesh, either to Haddouchi himself or to other fighters. In other words the cash was handed over to Abrini with the intention of assisting others to commit acts of terrorism.”
Mr Hill explained that Haddouchi had left Britain for Syria in the summer of 2014.
He told the jury: “His TSB account at times contained some £7,000 or more. The figure fluctuated over time because benefits payments were still going into the account, even though Haddouchi had left the country.”
He said the money had been gradually withdrawn in cash sums on various dates between 30 May 2015 and 23 November 2015.
This brings to mind Lenin’s famous dictum, “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” The British taxpayers have been unwittingly subsidizing attacks against their neighbors. No doubt France and Belgium are not amused.
But even more worrying is the extent and reach of this terror network that spanned not only several European countries, but the usual places in the Middle East. While authorities have probably done a good job in rolling up the key parts of the network, some of the permanent infrastructure that supplies cash and facilitates travel for jihadists are still operating — potentially assisting other terrorist clients.
The French government just foiled an “imminent” terrorist attack set for December 1. There were ties to Syria as well as Belgium. It makes you wonder if some of the same actors involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks were also involved in the plot foiled by authorities.