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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Iraqi guilty of London tube bombing said it was his “duty” to hate Britain

30 passengers injured as wall of fire ripped through train during morning rush hour

Ahmed Hassan, convicted of exploding a device on an underground train at Parsons Green tube station in London, Police / Handout via Reuters
Ahmed Hassan, convicted of exploding a device on an underground train at Parsons Green tube station in London, Police / Handout via Reuters

An Iraqi asylum seeker who blamed Britain for killing his father in an air strike was convicted of attempted murder on Friday for leaving a homemade bucket bomb on a packed London train during morning rush hour.

Ahmed Hassan, 18, will be sentenced next week for the attack at London’s Parsons Green tube station last September.

One of his college tutors told jurors that Hassan had said it was his “duty” to hate Britain prior to the botched bomb attack.

Hassan’s homemade device – a bucket packed with screwdrivers, knives, nuts, bolts and "Mother of Satan" TATP – only partially exploded, but it was enough to send a fireball through the train carriage. Thirty people were injured in the ensuing panic.

Hassan hoped to kill as many people as possible, prosecutor Sue Hemming told the jury at London's Old Bailey criminal court. The train carriage was packed with more than 90 passengers at the time of the explosion.

“It was only a matter of luck that the device did not work as he intended or it could easily have led to the loss of innocent lives,” Hemming said.

Experts testified that one gram of TATP could cause serious injury. The Parsons Green device contained 400g of the explosive.

Commuter Stephen Nash told jurors he experienced a "blinding flash" before he was thrown to the ground and "engulfed in flames". Witness Aimee Colville said she heard a banging sound before her hair caught on fire. One woman suffering burns to her hands, legs, and face causing her to lose the hair on her eyebrows and eyelashes, while others were hurt in a stampede to flee the scene.

Head of Scotland Yard's counter terrorism command, Dean Haydon, said Hassan acted alone and described him as "devious and cunning in equal measures”.

The teenager had left his home in Sunbury-on-Thames in west London and set the timer for the device in toilets at Wimbledon station where he boarded a District Line underground train.

The device exploded one stop after Hassan left the train. Hassan then destroyed his phone, fled to England’s southern coast, and was carrying more than £2,300 in cash when police arrested him.

He was caught by chance when a police officer spotted him outside the passenger terminal at Dover, 24 hours after the attack. When he was searched, he claimed to police that he was waiting for a friend.

Hassan later testified that he was "bored" and wanted to start a fire but didn't intend to hurt people.

"I was watching documentaries as well, about fugitives and just the idea of being a fugitive got into my head," he told jurors.

Hassan, who arrived in Britain in October 2015, told officials that he feared Islamic State and had been taken by force in Iraq and trained "how to kill". He was living with foster parents in the UK and studying media and photography before the bomb attack.

Katie Cable, a lecturer at the college where Hassan studied, testified that Hassan blamed Britain for the death of his parents in Iraq. Cable said she believed his father was blown up and his mother was shot.

The lecturer had alerted a government terrorism prevention scheme of her concerns when she saw a message in August 2016 on his phone reading: "IS has accepted your donation".

Cable testified that Hassan talked about Tony Blair and expressed "anger" at events in Iraq.

The attack, claimed by IS, was the fifth time Britain had been targeted in a six-month period in 2017.