November 27, 2020 Faith Matters

Arena bomber’s friend was ‘wholly committed to terrorist purposes’, court heard

Abdalraouf Abdallah is a man “wholly committed to terrorist purposes”, a court heard.

His own father, Nagah Abdallah, as the father of Salman Abedi had done, came to the UK in 1993 as a refugee from the brutal regime of Colonel Gaddafi with his wife Samira Lalouche, a refugee from political oppression.

Abdallah’s uncle was among 1,300 people murdered by the dictator in a mass killing of political prisoners in 1996.

Although his parents are Libyan, Abdalraouf Abdallah was born in Pakistan but holds dual British and Libyan nationality.

The family, along with his elder brother Mohammed Abdallah, who was born in Algeria, lived at Westerling Way in south Manchester, home to a large Libyan community.

Abdallah became “at the centre of a jihadist network facilitating foreign fighters”, said Max Hill QC, who prosecuted him at his terror trial in 2016.

In 2010 the then student travelled to Libya for a gap year and was living there with relatives when the first of the Arab Spring protests engulfed neighbouring Tunisia.

As demonstrations spread to Libya’s capital Tripoli, he joined thousands calling for Gaddafi’s fall as the country descended into civil war.

Abdallah and his brother joined one of the most important rebel Islamist groups – the February 17th Martyrs Brigade.

Some of its members were considered to be potential enemies of the UK because of their former links to al Qaida.

Abdallah was shot, seriously wounded and left wheelchair-bound and paralysed from the waist down.

He was sent back to the UK in August 2011, rejoining family in Manchester where he became friends with Salman Abedi and began to help others carry out jihad.

His disabilities helped prosecutors in understanding his role in the events that related to his brother and others joining the so-called Islamic State jihadists in Syria.

In 2014 Abdallah’s brother Mohammed decided to travel to Syria to engage in the violence of the jihadists, travelling with a man named Nezar Khalifa and joining up with Islamic State fighters in July of that year, the court heard.

They intended to meet with two others, Raymond Matimba and Stephen Gray, the court heard.

Matimba was successful and eventually caught up with the elder Abdallah and Khalifa, all the while communicating with Abdalraouf Abdallah who arranged contacts, money, go-betweens and weapons, his trial heard.

While in Syria, Mohammed Abdallah was wired £2,000 in funds by his sibling, leaving Syria to collect the cash in Istanbul, the court heard.

Abdallah was in constant contact with his brother and his friends through social media apps.

On May 11 2016 Abdalraouf Abdallah was sentenced to an extended determinate sentence of nine years and six months, made up of a custodial element of five and a half years and an extended licence period of four years.

Stephen Mustafa Gray, of Whitnall Street, Moss Side, a former RAF serviceman and Iraq war veteran, who converted to Islam and tried to get to Syria, was jailed for five years for terror offences.

Raymond Matimba, of Bold Street, Moss Side, travelled with Gray to Syria but unlike him, was able to cross the border.

He reportedly became an IS sniper and appeared in footage with the so-called Beatles terror cell alongside “Jihadi John”.

Despite reports he was killed in combat his death has never been confirmed.

The current whereabouts of Khalifa are not known.

Read more: Manchester bomb-plotter held in jail with extremism separation unit