British Physician Is Convicted of 2007 Car-Bomb Plot
- A British jury Tuesday found a doctor from an Iraqi family guilty of plotting to murder on a mass scale in failed car-bomb attacks last year in London and Glasgow.
Bilal Abdulla, 29, who practiced medicine in Britain, drove a Mercedes sedan packed with gas cylinders and nails into central London in June 2007 with the intent of killing hundreds, the prosecution said. After the homemade car bomb he had parked outside a crowded nightclub failed to detonate, Abdulla joined an attempted suicide attack the next day targeting Glasgow's airport, according to prosecutors.
He faces life in prison in connection with both attacks and is to be sentenced Wednesday.
Born in Britain to Iraqi parents, Abdulla was accused of wanting to take revenge for friends, relatives and other civilians killed in Iraq by British and U.S. troops.
The terrorist case involving medical professionals sworn to save lives has shocked and unnerved many people here.
In the Glasgow airport attack, Abdulla's Jeep ignited into a fireball when the driver, Kafeel Ahmed, rammed it into the main terminal; Ahmed, a 28-year-old engineering student from India, had doused himself with gasoline. In critical condition for a month, Ahmed died with burns over 90 percent of his body.
Abdulla broke a man's leg as he fought off passersby and police at the airport before he was arrested.
A second doctor who stood trial, Jordanian neurologist Mohammed Asha, 28, was acquitted of involvement in the attacks. The jury heard testimony during the nine-week trial that Asha had met with Abdulla several times and lent him money. Other doctors had lauded him as an outstanding young doctor.
Asha testified that he knew nothing of the plot to kill and that extremist material on his laptop had been sent to him from Abdulla.
Asha is expected to fight to stay in Britain, where he works for the National Health Service. His case prompted a review of the government's practice of hiring foreign-born doctors.
Tayab Ali, Asha's attorney, told reporters that his client "wants to stay in this country and resume his medical career." Ali said Asha is disappointed that he was not immediately released from custody after the long trial. Immigration officials are now handling his case because his visa expired while he was in custody, and he faces deportation.
Abdulla and Ahmed, after parking cars in central London packed with gas cylinders and pouring gasoline inside them, escaped in tourist cycle rickshaws and attempted to detonate the cars using cellphones, according to prosecutors. Loose electrical connections and a lack of oxygen in the gas cylinders prevented tragedy, they said.
Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told the jury that the men had been intent on "committing murder on an indiscriminate and wholesale scale."
Abdulla, who held dual Iraqi and British citizenship, said during the trial that he was horrified by bombings and other attacks by U.S. and British troops that killed innocent people in Iraq, which he visited after the 2003 invasion.
"I wanted the public to taste what is going on, for them to have a taste of what the decisions of their democratically elected murderers did to my people," he testified.
But his defense was that he intended only to "scare" people and to draw attention to the carnage in Iraq.
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