An Iraqi doctor was jailed for life today for trying to murder hundreds of people in failed car bombings in London and Glasgow last year. Bilal Abdulla, 29, who was born in Britain but raised in Iraq, was ordered to spend at least 32 years behind bars after being found guilty yesterday of conspiracy to cause explosions for the failed attacks in June 2007. Judge Colin Crichton Mackay told Abdulla at Woolwich Crown Court in south-east London that he was a "religious extremist and a bigot" before passing two life sentences on him.
He said Abdulla's anger at the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 could not justify his actions, which were those of an educated and well-paid medical professional. "Many people felt and still feel strong opposition to the invasion of Iraq. You do, you are sincere in that and you have strong reasons for holding that view," said the judge. "But you were born with intelligence and you were born into a privileged and well-to-do position in Iraq and you are a trained doctor."
Abdulla's radical beliefs meant he remains a danger, he said. "All of the evidence makes you a very dangerous man, you pose a high risk of serious harm to the British public in your present state of mind. "That fact plus the circumstances of the offences themselves means that the only possible sentence on each of these two counts is a life sentence." During the trial, Abdulla admitted he was a "terrorist" but accused the British government of terrorism too for invading Iraq and maintained he was not trying to kill or injure anyone.
His co-defendant Mohammed Asha, a 28-year-old Jordanian neurologist, was cleared on all counts. Police discovered two Mercedes cars loaded with bombs made of gas cylinders, petrol and nails left outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub and a bus stop in a bid to target late-night revellers in London's West End on June 29, 2007. The devices failed to explode because of faulty connections in mobile phones being used as detonators and the smothering effect of petrol and gas fumes, jurors heard.
The next day a Jeep carrying a similar deadly cargo was crashed into the front of the main terminal at Glasgow airport in Scotland in an alleged suicide attack. Hundreds of travellers fled in terror after the vehicle caught fire and thick black smoke filled the terminal, although there was no explosion. Abdulla, who along with Mr Asha worked in Britain's state-run National Health Service, was arrested at the scene after throwing petrol bombs and fighting with police. He tried to escape but was tackled by onlookers.
Mr Asha was arrested hours later as he travelled on a motorway in north-west England with his wife and young son. A lawyer for Mr Asha said his client was overjoyed by being cleared on all counts, but was now facing a new battle with the Home Office, who he said wants to deport him. "I hope the government lets the will of the jury prevail. I am an innocent man, all I want to do is put my life back together with my wife and child," Mr Asha said.