Manchester

RAF gunner and paraplegic man jailed for terrorism offences

Stephen Gray and Abdalraouf Abdallah Image copyright BBC/Other
Image caption Stephen Gray and Abdalraouf Abdallah met playing football in the years before Abdallah was injured

A former RAF gunner who converted to Islam and a paraplegic man have been jailed for terrorism offences.

Stephen Gray, 32, also known as Mustafa, was jailed for five years at Woolwich Crown Court.

The RAF veteran served in the Iraq War and attempted to reach Syria on two separate occasions in July 2014.

Abdalraouf Abdallah, 23, was jailed for up to five-and-a-half years with further supervision for trying to help Gray join jihadis in Syria.

'Jihadist network'

British-Libyan Abdallah, left paralysed after he took part in the 2011 Libyan uprising, was convicted in May of two counts of preparing acts of terrorism and funding terrorism.

During the trial, the court was told he played a key role in arranging the journey to Syria for Gray, Abdallah's own brother Mohammed and two other men. He had also tried to arrange firearms for three of them and sent £2,000 to his brother for terrorist purposes.

Abdallah vehemently denied having anything to do with the so-called Islamic State during his defence but prosecutor Max Hill QC accused him of being "at the centre of a jihadist network facilitating foreign fighters".

Gray pleaded guilty to preparing to commit acts of terrorism, assisting another in committing acts of terrorism and funding terrorism.

Image caption The prosecution said that Mohammed Abdallah (right) went to Syria but his brother - the defendant in the case - says he is now living in Libya

He had served two tours of duty in Iraq as a gunner in No 2 Squadron of the RAF Regiment and later converted to Islam after returning home disillusioned by the war.

The pair, both of Moss Side in Manchester, had known each other for seven or eight years and had exchanged messages online about Gray's planned trip to Syria.

Abdallah's brother Mohammed went to Syria in June 2014 and planned to meet Gray there, the court was told.

Gray then left for Barcelona in July 2014 and went on to Turkey but was turned back and never made it to Syria.

Another convert he was travelling with, Raymond Matimba, also known as Abu Qaqa Britani Afro, succeeded in joining Mohammed and another man inside the war zone.

Image caption Raymond Matimba made it to Syria and sent his friends pictures from the city of Raqqa, the court heard during the trial

Abdallah was sentenced to five-and-a-half years, plus an extended sentence of four years for preparing acts of terrorism, and two years, to run concurrently for being concerned in a funding arrangement of terrorism.

Gray was jailed on two counts of preparing acts of terrorism - for five years plus an extended licence of four years as well as one count of being concerned in a funding arrangement of terrorism for which he received three years. His sentences will run concurrently.

In addition to his sentence, he will be added to the terrorism register for 15 years.

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