Manchester

RAF gunner from Manchester guilty of terrorism offences

Stephen Gray Image copyright Other
Image caption Stephen Gray was born to Christian parents and converted to Islam after his time in the British military

A former RAF gunner from Manchester who converted to Islam is to be jailed after admitting terrorism offences.

Stephen Gray, 32, also known as Mustafa, served in the Iraq War and attempted to reach Syria on two separate occasions in July 2014.

Abdalraouf Abdallah, 23, from Moss Side, was found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court of helping Gray and three others get to Syria to join jihadis.

The judge adjourned sentencing but said a jail sentence "is going to follow".

Abdallah, who uses a wheelchair after being shot in Libya, also tried to arrange firearms for three men and sent £2,000 to his brother, Mohammed Abdallah, for terrorist purposes, the court heard.

Mohammed went to Syria in June 2014 and planned to meet Gray there.

'Jihadist network'

Prosecutor Max Hill QC said one of Abdallah's contacts in Brussels, known only as Obaida, was "facilitating the movements of terrorists across mainland Europe".

He accused him of being "at the centre of a jihadist network facilitating foreign fighters".

Abdallah, who came to the UK with his family as Libyan refugees in 1993, exchanged messages with Gray online about his travel in the months before July 2014.

Image caption Abdalraouf Abdallah has been in a wheelchair since he was injured in Libya

The pair had apparently known each other for seven or eight years after they met playing football together in Manchester.

Gray served as a gunner in No 2 Squadron of the RAF Regiment, protecting airfields and aircraft, and was stationed in Baghdad in 2004.

He was born to Christian parents and converted to Islam after his time in the British military.

He had his own cleaning company and two wives, under Sharia law, who live in Manchester.

Gray allegedly had a contact in Syria, whom he met at an Arabic university in Egypt, and tried to get to the country by air via Turkey and overground across Europe.

He was arrested in November 2014 and pleaded guilty to preparing to commit acts of terrorism, assisting another in committing acts of terrorism and funding terrorism, it can now be reported.

Det Ch Supt Tony Mole said Gray was not arrested at Manchester Airport after his first attempt to get to Syria because there was not enough evidence.

Abdallah insisted he hated so-called Islamic State (IS) and was acting as a "Royal Mail messenger" passing information between his friends and brother.

He was found guilty of preparation of acts of terrorism and funding terrorism.

Releasing him on bail, Judge Christopher Kinch warned "a prison sentence is going to follow in light of the jury's verdicts."

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