Doctor guilty of car bombs campaign

Click to follow
The Independent Online

An Iraqi NHS doctor was today found guilty of conspiring to murder hundreds in London and Glasgow car bomb attacks.

Bilal Abdulla, 29, was convicted of conspiracy to murder and to cause explosions at Woolwich Crown Court.

But a second defendant, his close friend, Jordanian NHS neurologist Mohammed Asha, 28, was acquitted of the same charges.

Islamic extremist Abdulla plotted to murder late-night revellers in London's West End with two mobile phone-detonated devices.

He drove one of two Mercedes saloons loaded with gas cylinders, petrol and nails into central London.

But the bombs failed to detonate.

Just over a day later a Jeep loaded with a similar deadly cargo was crashed into Glasgow Airport in a suicide attack.

Abdulla wanted revenge for the wars in his homeland and what he saw as Western oppression of Muslims worldwide.

Abdulla plotted "indiscriminate and wholesale" murder with Indian PhD student Kafeel Ahmed in a wave of car bomb attacks.

Colleagues said Abdulla travelled to Britain to further his career at university and in hospital.

He was a junior doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, and also studied in Cambridge.

But secretly Abdulla was a member of a terrorist cell that wanted to plunge the UK back into the terror of July 2005.

He turned his attention from treating illness to planning a series of devastating car bombs in busy urban centres.

Abdulla and Ahmed, 28, cunningly concealed their tracks as they spent six months buying vehicles, renting a property and preparing the bombs.

They purchased five second-hand vehicles and had prepared detonators for at least two further bombs, experts found.

The discovery of two car bombs in Haymarket and adjoining Cockspur Street on 29 June last year sparked a nationwide manhunt.

Shortly after 1.30am, Abdulla parked one battered Mercedes outside Tiger, Tiger, a nightclub packed with more than 500 people.

Before walking off, the Iraqi turned on one of the gas cylinders and splashed petrol inside the vehicle.

Meanwhile his accomplice, Ahmed, parked and prepared a second similar vehicle at a nearby bus stop.

As the two men escaped on rickshaws they dialled the numbers of hand-made mobile-phone detonators left in the vehicles.

But the devices failed because of loose electrical connections and the smothering effect of the thick gas and petrol fumes.

This unexpected failure provoked the men to a desperate change of tactics as MI5 and counter terrorist police hunted them down.

The next day they made their way back to Glasgow, via a short meeting with Asha at his Stoke workplace.

They spent the night preparing at their bomb factory, a rented family home at 6 Neuk Crescent, Houston, preparing a final suicide attack.

On Saturday 30 June, Abdulla and Ahmed loaded a Jeep Cherokee four-wheel drive with gas canisters, petrol, nails and Molotov cocktails.

Their target was Glasgow Airport on its busiest day of the year with long queues as hundreds of passengers set off on summer holidays.

At exactly 3.13pm, Ahmed accelerated into the terminal building, impaling the vehicle on the edge of a door frame.

As they set fire to the vehicle, both men threw petrol bombs and fought violently with police and bystanders.

Ahmed doused himself with petrol and burst into flames, but was extinguished by police, sprayed with CS gas and arrested.

He died one month later from critical burns without ever regaining consciousness.

Abdulla broke a man's leg as he fought off a series of people, but was eventually tackled to the ground and handcuffed.

Asha was accused of being a shadowy behind-the-scenes mastermind who co-ordinated the attacks in a series of meetings and phone calls.

Analysis of his mobile phone records revealed the men had a close relationship, speaking and meeting regularly.

He lent £1,300 to Abdulla and extremist material, including a hand-written poem addressed to Osama bin Laden, was found at his home and on his laptop.

Surveillance officers watched him dumping Islamic texts in a supermarket car park just hours after the Glasgow attack.

But the jury found he was an innocent dupe who knew nothing of his friend's murderous plans.

Asha suspected Abdulla harboured extremist beliefs, but wanted to help him further his career and find a wife.

The jury of seven women and five men rejected Abdulla's defence that he planned a series of bloodless incendiary attacks to highlight the plight of Iraqis.

Abdulla, wearing a sweatshirt and open-necked shirt, sat slouched on the dock bench with his arm along the back of the seat.

He showed no reaction as both guilty verdicts were read by the jury foreman,

Asha, dressed in a smart suit and tie and sat beside him, smiled in silence as the jury acquitted him.

Mr Justice Mackay indicated he will sentence Abdulla, who faces a life sentence, tomorrow morning.

Speaking to Asha, he said: "Dr Asha, you have been found not guilty by the jury on both counts and that means what it says.

"You are not guilty of these charges and may be discharged and resume, I hope, your life as it was before."

Asha is expected to be released from Belmarsh prison later today and deported to his home country Jordan.

The jury deliberated for 24 hours and 15 minutes.