Iraqi doctor convicted in British bomb plot

December 17, 2008|By Los Angeles Times


An Iraqi doctor who planted car bombs in the heart of London and tried to mount a fiery suicide attack on a Scottish airport last year was found guilty yesterday of conspiracy to commit murder.

Bilal Abdulla, 29, was convicted for his role in a terrorist plot that alarmed Britain because of the involvement of a medical professional trained to save lives and because of the carnage that was only narrowly averted when the homemade bombs failed to explode.

Abdulla, who was born in Britain but raised mostly in Iraq, was found guilty of joining fellow plotter Kafeel Ahmed in trying to commit murder on what prosecutors called an "indiscriminate and wholesale scale."

The two men were described as members of an Islamist cell that sought to punish the West for perceived injustices to Muslims in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Early June 29, 2007, the pair unsuccessfully tried to detonate car bombs outside a crowded London nightclub and at a nearby bus stop. After those bombs failed, the men sped north to Glasgow, Scotland, where on June 30 they rammed a Jeep packed with containers of gasoline into the glass-fronted terminal of the international airport.

The vehicle burst into flames but did not explode. In images broadcast around the world, Abdulla was seen trying to fight off police before he and Ahmed, who had apparently set himself on fire, were arrested. Ahmed, 28, an engineer from India, died from his burns a few weeks later.

A third man, Jordanian neurologist Mohammed Asha, 28, was accused of having given guidance to the two attackers. He was acquitted yesterday of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to cause dangerous explosions.

Abdulla was found guilty of the same charges and is scheduled to be sentenced today. He could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Abdulla, a doctor for Britain's National Health Service, claimed in court that his intent was not to hurt people but merely to frighten them and focus attention on Iraqis' suffering after the U.S.-led and British-supported overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

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