UK doctor Bilal Abdulla jailed for 32 years for London and Glasgow terrorist attacks
December 17, 2008
NHS doctor jailed for 32 years for bungled terror bomb plot
An NHS doctor was jailed for at least 32 years today for plotting to murder hundreds of people in terrorist car bomb attacks on London and Glasgow.
Bilal Abdulla, 29, was unmasked as a terrorist who wanted to murder innocent civilians in revenge for fighting in his native Iraq.
The sentencing came before the judge, Mr Justice Mackay criticised anti-terror police for breaches of procedure that could have derailed the trial.
A jury at Woolwich Crown Court found him guilty of conspiracy to murder and to cause explosions yesterday at the end of a nine-week trial.
Mr Justice Mackay told him he was 'religious extremist and a bigot' who held the most extreme form of Islamist views.
The judge said: '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.
'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.'
The judge said Abdulla's radical religious and political beliefs meant he continued to be a danger to the British public.
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.'
The junior doctor drove one of two home-made Mercedes car bombs, each packed with gas cylinders, petrol and nails, into London's West End last summer.
He admitted parking the car outside Tiger Tiger, a nightclub packed with more than 500 people, turning on the gas cylinders and splashing the interior with petrol.
His accomplice, Indian PhD engineering student Kafeel Ahmed, parked the second vehicle at a nearby bus stop.Enlarge
The Mercedes car parked outside Tiger Tiger nightclub in the Haymarket. It was packed with gas cannisters, petrol and nails
As the two men escaped, they dialled the numbers of hand-made mobile-phone detonators left in the vehicles.
But the devices failed because of loose electrical connections and the smothering effect of the thick gas and petrol fumes.
The discovery of two car bombs in Haymarket and adjoining Cockspur Street sparked a nationwide manhunt.
The two men fled to their bomb factory in a rented family home in Houston, on the outskirts of Glasgow. Abdulla worked nearby at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
The next day they launched a desperate suicide attack on Glasgow Airport in a powerful Jeep loaded with gas cylinders and petrol.
Counter terrorist police said the London attacks were intended to be the first strikes in a wave of terrorist atrocities.
The court heard how the two men purchased five second-hand cars and had enough material for two more detonators.
The boot of the mercedes packed with fuel cannisters
Abdulla's close friend Jordanian neurologist Mohammed Asha, 28, was acquitted of the same charges.
Mr Justice Mackay said the jury was convinced that Abdulla and Ahmed wanted to murder people on an 'indiscriminate basis'.
Speaking about the West End attacks, he said the men thoroughly researched the gas cylinder bombs and the mobile phone detonators on the internet.
He said: 'Your murderous intent was best shown by the obstructing of the safety mechanisms on two of the cylinders and by the 800-plus nails in one car and 1,000 in the second, designed to do nothing else but constitute a deadly form of shrapnel to maim, injure and kill.'
The judge said the men selected Tiger, Tiger because it was symbolic, busy and extremely vulnerable.
He said: 'The club represented everything that you and Ahmed held in contempt and despised about Western culture: drink, association between the sexes, and music. Your will documents both showed that.'
The mobile phones Abdulla and Ahmed had rigged to trigger the blasts. Both failed to work
The judge said that when the bombs failed to explode, the terrorists immediately turned to a potentially deadly second plan.
He said: 'You were both undeterred and immediately put the second attack into effect, which had probably been designed as the grand finale of your conspiracy.'
Abdulla, who wore a blue t-shirt and jeans in the dock, showed no emotion as he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The doctor has sat slumped on the bench in the high-security dock, often smiling at the jury, throughout the trial.
The judge said his account of his role in the Glasgow attack was 'entirely false' and that he and Ahmed were both 'eager' to kill.
He said: 'You no doubt felt that your religious convictions, which are sincere, permitted you to lie in defence of what you see as your obligation to jihad.'
Anti-terror police lied to Mohammed Asha, who was cleared of all terror charges
The judge said Abdulla's explanation that he expected to be dropped off by his friend, who was driving a Jeep packed with petrol bombs and gas cylinders, was 'simply absurd'.
He said it was clear Abdulla lit petrol bombs and threw them at bystanders after Ahmed smashed the four-wheel drive into the terminal building.
The judge said: 'Your actions and what you said at the airport were utterly inconsistent with your account and showed you protecting the burning Jeep, looking at it in the hope that it would explode and you said as much to bystanders, and you shouted the proclamation 'God is great' in anticipation of triumph.'
He added: 'Therefore the Glasgow attack, like the failed London attack before it, was an attempt to cause death and injury to large numbers of innocent people.
'If you had succeeded between you in driving this vehicle inside the terminal and causing one of the gas cylinders to explode the casualty level would have been very high.
'There were hundreds of people there, men, women, young children, people in wheelchairs, a clutter of luggage. It does not bear thinking about.
'I am satisfied you both intended to die in the process and Kafeel duly did so. But I suspect your own courage deserted you at the last minute.'
The judge said Abdulla held a 'perverted' and 'distorted' view of Islam, including the justification of attacks on civilians, and held anyone who did not share them in 'contempt'.
He said: 'You views of religion dominate your thinking and are inextricably wound in with your political views. One cannot distinguish the two.'
The judge criticised counter terrorist police for failing to uphold the rights of Abdulla's co-defendant, Asha, in interview.
The court heard evidence Asha's rights were not respected during four 'safety' interviews at Paddington Green police station.
Police were accused of delaying his contact with a solicitor and misleading the doctor in interview.
The judge said if the neurologist had incriminated himself he would have ruled the evidence inadmissible because of the breaches.
He said so-called 'safety interviews' at Paddington Green police station were 'unsatisfactory' and custody paperwork was unreliable.
The burnt-out shell of the Jeep Cherokee used in Bilal's terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport
And he called for a review of how officers who deal with suspects in high-pressure, fast-moving terrorist inquiries are trained.
Speaking after sentencing, Mr Justice Mackay said he was 'concerned' about events at Paddington Green on July 1 last year.
He said: 'The custody record was not a reliable document in my view in the sense it was not complete and a contemporaneous record.
'The safety interviews themselves were unsatisfactory and in my judgment a mumbled caution was inadequately articulated and entirely unexplained to an unrepresented defendant.
'Had there been anything said by Dr Asha that incriminated him and supported the prosecution case, I would felt bound to rule it inadmissible.
'The second interview in particular travelled well beyond the limits of such questioning.
'I respectfully suggest Counter Terrorism Command reviews the training of and advice to officers in this area of work.
'The seriousness of terrorist offences should never be a reason for anything other than the best of good practice.'
Police forensic officers at the scene of the terror attack at Glasgow Airport, where a car was driven into the terminal building
High-flying Jordanian neurologist Dr Asha was cleared of any involvement in the London Glasgow terror conspiracy yesterday.
The jury was shown a video of four safety interviews conducted hours after his arrest on the M6 in Cheshire on June 30 last year.
They showed Dr Asha weeping as he named his close friend Abdulla and Indian PhD student Kafeel Ahmed as potential suspects.
Terrorism legislation allows police to interview suspects without a solicitor if they believe members of the public remain at risk.
But the trial heard evidence that officers repeatedly interviewed Dr Asha about wider aspects of the inquiry.
Two of the interviews took place before Dr Asha was allowed to speak to a solicitor.
The jury heard police not only delayed Dr Asha's access to a solicitor but lied to him during the interviews.
Dr Asha arrived at Paddington Green shortly before 1am and was first interviewed at 10.20am on July 1.
In a second interview, at 3.35pm, the officers claimed to have evidence that Dr Asha was involved in the attacks.
One said: 'I've been doing this for a long time but I'm going to let you in to a little secret, OK?
'Our investigation has led us to show that you are probably a little bit more involved than you just let on to us this morning.'
Police admitted during the trial that this was not true and they had no new information about Dr Asha.
Barrister Stephen Kamlish QC said Dr Asha was only able to get legal advice after 10 hours in custody.
He said: 'These officers disgracefully lied to him, intimidated him and bullied him in to thinking they had evidence against him.'
Mr Kamlish said that at one point a solicitor telephoned but was told Dr Asha was resting and police did not reveal interviews were about to start.
Solicitor Louise Christian said responsibility for the abuse lay with the Government.
She said: 'It seems pretty horrifying and quite clearly an abuse of the purpose of this legislation.
'The fact is, has this legislation ever been necessary? I suspect the answer is no.
'The real culpability lies with the Government for bringing in this legislation because it was entirely foreseeable that the police would abuse it.
'They are under pressure to get convictions in terrorism cases and who applied that pressure? The Government.' http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1096822/NHS-doctor-jailed-32-years-bungled-terror-bomb-plot.html