Mohamed Abrini
Mohamed Abrini

A man accused of belonging to an Isis cell responsible for terror attacks in Brussels and Paris said the group did not plan to target the UK.

Mohamed Abrini was caught on CCTV with the brothers who detonated suicide bombs in the deadly attack on the Belgian capital on 22 March, and was arrested shortly afterwards.

UK citizens Zakaria Boufassil Mohammed Ali Ahmed are accused of meeting Abrini and giving him £3,000 for the purpose of 'committing or assisting another to commit acts of terrorism' when Abrini visited Birmingham in 2015.

A jury at Kingston crown court in south-west London heard a transcript from a French police interview with Abrini, in which he said there were no plans to attack the UK.

"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 said in the interview conducted in French, reported Associated Press.

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."

He said that there were no members of the group in England. "No, not at all. There are no other members in England and I am hiding no one … Those I met in England have nothing to do with the attacks in Paris and/or Brussels."

Boufassil denies the charges, but the jury in his trial has heard that Ahmed admitted them.

In a separate police interview transcript read out at the trial Abrini said he had travelled to Syria via Turkey in 2015 to visit his brother's grave. In Syria he said he had been asked by Paris attacks mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud to travel to the UK to pick up money.

In Birmingham, he said he met a man he later identified as Ahmed in a park believed to be Small Heath, who led him to a forest where a man who identified himself as Zakaria gave him the money.

He then travelled to Manchester to gamble in casinos, before flying to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on 16 July.

He denied that the money given to him was intended to be used by a terror network as "to carry out attacks you need lots of money."

Abrini is currently being held in Belgium, where he is accused of involvement in the Brussels attacks, and is also wanted by French authorities on suspicion of involvement in the 13 November, 2015, Paris attacks.

The trial continues.