LONDON // An Iraqi doctor was convicted today of a plot to commit "wholesale" murder by carrying out bomb attacks last year outside a nightclub in central London and at a packed Scottish airport a day later. Bilal Abdulla, 29, was part of a small cell that planned a series of spectacular bombings but turned to a dramatic suicide ram-raid attack on Glasgow Airport when their initial plans failed.
Abdulla, along with accomplice Kafeel Ahmed, had wanted to punish the British people for their country's perceived persecution of Palestinian Muslims and those in Afghanistan and Iraq, Woolwich Crown Court was told. Jonathan Laidlaw, prosecuting, said the men wanted to commit murder on an "indiscriminate and wholesale scale". Their plans only failed because of a mixture of good fortune and technical mistakes which meant the devices failed to explode.
Abdulla was found guilty of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions. His co-accused, the Jordanian doctor Mohammed Asha, 28, who was accused of providing guidance and funding for the attacks, was cleared of the same charges. Abdulla will be sentenced at a later stage. Ahmed, an Indian engineer, died of wounds sustained in the attack on Glasgow airport and was not on trial. In the London attacks, two Mercedes cars packed with gas canisters, fuel containers and nails were driven down from Scotland and left in the busy West End area of the capital in the early hours of June 29, 2007.
One was parked outside Tiger Tiger, a nightclub packed with more than 550 revellers near Piccadilly Circus, while the second was left nearby close to a night bus stop. Prosecutors and police have suggested the second car was deliberately placed to catch those fleeing from the first explosion. However, despite repeated attempts to set off the mobile phone detonators in the cars, neither vehicle exploded.
The would-be bombers Abdulla and Ahmed escaped the scene in rickshaws and, having failed, the gang dramatically changed their plans, aware that the police and security services would be on their trail through clues left in the cars. The next day, the bombers drove to Scotland with police hot on their heels. Although police sources say detectives were "just a road away" from them as they prepared a new attack.
A Jeep Cherokee, also packed with fuel containers and gas canisters, was driven at speed into the international terminal at Glasgow Airport on what was its busiest day of the year. Video footage showed how the flaming Jeep became stuck in the terminal doors and despite attempts to detonate it using petrol bombs, the vehicle failed to explode. Kafeel Ahmed, 28, the driver of the Jeep and also the bombmaker according to police, died from burns he sustained, while Abdulla, who was in the passenger seat, survived.
Abdulla denied plotting to kill anyone and told the court he "loved England" and thought they were going to Glasgow to flee the country. The Iraqi, who worked as a junior doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, west of Glasgow, said the attacks were a stunt to bring attention to Britain's role in Iraq. However, he admitted he hated the US government and supported insurgents fighting in his homeland.
Prosecutors said their aim had been to cause fear on a scale generated by the July 7, 2005 London bombings, the capital's worst peacetime attacks by militants, which killed 52 people. *Reuters