Terror suspect had pictures of Villa Park and Birmingham shopping centre on phone
Investigators have revealed that Mohamed Abrini, a lead suspect in the Paris and Brussels attacks, took part in three separate visits to the UK in 2015.
Forensics experts have found photographs on the recently-arrested 31-year-old's phone, which purport to show Birmingham New Street train station, Aston Villa’s football ground, and the well-known Birmingham Bullring shopping centre.
According to intelligence services, the ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, also travelled to Birmingham during this time.
The Daily Mirror quotes an anonymous security source close to the investigation as saying:
“We know that the Birmingham gang is involved in collecting illicit crime-generated cash in a sophisticated Europe wide money laundering scam directed by Islamists. The fact that both Abaaoud and Abrini travelled to Birmingham during heightened terror alerts across Europe shows how important the Birmingham link is.”
Birmingham has apparently played a major role as a location for the movement of cash in the lead up to the Paris and Brussels attacks.
The same security source gave further information to the Birmingham Mail:
“It is not clear if Abrini personally took the photographs himself. We now know some of the images on his phone of UK sites were sent to him via an encrypted message app and included nondescript images of Birmingham city centre and what appears to be the Smallheath area of the city.”