Two alleged terrorists who left car bombs near a busy London nightclub used tourist rickshaws to escape the scene in an attempt to conceal their identities from CCTV cameras, a court has been told.
Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi doctor working at an NHS hospital near Glasgow, and his Indian-born accomplice, Kafeel Ahmed, fled to a hotel while firefighters dealt with the cars left outside Tiger Tiger club in the West End. Unaware that they were dealing with potentially devastating explosive devices, the firefighters dragged gas canisters from one of two Mercedes saloons.
The two men tried to take their own lives shortly after the failed bombing by driving a Jeep, rigged to explode in a fireball, into Glasgow Airport. They were part of a terrorist cell that intended the London attack to be the beginning of a series of car bombings using devices triggered remotely with mobile phones.
A jury at Woolwich Crown Court in south-east London heard that Mr Abdulla and Ahmed, who died from his injuries after the airport attack, hurried from the West End after leaving the cars at 1am on 29 June 2007. They separately caught bicycle rickshaws from Piccadilly Circus to travel to a rendezvous in west London. Ahmed, who had parked his car next to a night-bus stop where members of the public were queuing, was seen leaving with an umbrella. Jonathan Laidlaw, prosecuting, said: "It was not raining so presumably the umbrella was being carried for the purpose of concealing his face."
The trial had already heard that the car bombs only failed to detonate because of a chance imbalance in the amount of fuel and air in the vehicles. The second day of evidence revealed that emergency services, called after the green Mercedes was found outside Tiger Tiger, which was packed with 556 people, at first failed to realise it was a terrorist attack.
One firefighter opened the rear door of the car. Inside, gas was being released in the expectation that it would be ignited by a detonator rigged up from match heads and a bulb filament. The firefighter pulled one of the canisters on to the ground before noticing the triggers made from improvised mobile phones. He then called for the bomb squad.
Mr Laidlaw said: "It follows that, for something like five minutes or so, members of the emergency services as well as those in the club had been in very close proximity to the green Mercedes before the very great danger they were in was appreciated."
The court heard that Mr Abdulla, who with a second NHS doctor, Mohammed Asha, denies conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions, left an apparent draft of his will on a computer found in the burnt-out remains of the Jeep which showed how he identified with Islamists.
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