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UK doctors planned campaign of murder with series of car bomb attacks culminating in Glasgow airport suicide attempt

October 9, 2008

Terror trial: NHS doctors planned terrorist 'spectacular'

Two NHS doctors planned a campaign of "indiscriminate and wholesale murder" with a series of car bomb attacks across Britain which culminated in a failed suicide attack on Glasgow Airport, a jury has been told.

The Daily Telegraph (London) By Duncan Gardham and Gordon Rayner

Oct 2008

Islamic extremists Bilal Abdulla, 29, and Mohammed Asha, 27, plotted the "spectaculars" as "punishment" for Britain's foreign policy in Iraq and Israel, it is alleged. Iraqi national Abdulla and a third man, Kafeel Ahmed, tried and failed to blow up cars packed with gas canisters, nails and petrol outside a nightclub in London's West End in June 2007. When those devices failed to detonate, Abdulla and Ahmed launched the alleged suicide attack on Glasgow Airport the following day.

Ahmed, 28, later died from burns he sustained after setting off petrol bombs which failed to blow up their Jeep. Saudi-born Asha, a senior house officer in the neurology department of University Hospital of North Staffordshire, was not directly involved in either attack but supplied money to buy the cars and bomb components, was in touch with the other two men at crucial stages of the plot and may have offered "spiritual and ideological guidance", the prosecution allege.

Three other cars had been purchased by the gang and other possible targets including the Old Bailey and the City of London had been filmed by the plotters, Woolwich Crown Court in south east London was told. Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said: "In addition to the killing of the innocent the objective was to seize public attention, both here and internationally. By the carrying out of a series of explosions, with no warning as to where the next strike would occur, the terrorists knew the public would be gripped by fear." He added that the attacks failed through sheer "good fortune" on the part of the public. "Apart from the shocking nature of the activity these two defendants were engaged in, the extraordinary thing is that both men are doctors," said Mr Laidlaw. "They turned their attention away from the treating of illness to the planning of murder."

Mr Laidlaw said the plot had not been picked up by the security services, but "who would have suspected two doctors to have been involved in such planning?" Both men deny conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions. The jury was told that the plot, which had taken six months to plan, was put into action when Ahmed and Abdulla drove two Mercedes cars packed with gas canisters and nails from their rented house in Glasgow to London, where they parked outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in the Haymarket, which was packed with more than 500 people. The second of the cars, a blue, L-registered Mercedes, was parked near a bus stop in Cockspur Street, just south of the night club, possibly as a secondary device "deliberately placed there so it would be in the path of those evacuated."

The two men, who had stopped at London's Gateway services to fill the cars with "as much fuel as possible" on the way, opened the valves on the gas cylinders and retreated to "a safe distance". At around 1.30am on June 29, 2007, the two men allegedly tried to detonate the car bombs by calling mobile phones inside the cars which had been rigged up to home-made detonators. "Had it been executed in the way intended [it] would have resulted in the loss of many lives particularly among the young seeking entertainment in the area or on their way home after a night out," the prosecutor said. But a miscalculation meant the car bombs failed to detonate, and the two men decided on a drastic change of plan.

Because the cars had not been destroyed, the men knew that the police would quickly piece together their identities from the car registrations, the mobile phones and CCTV images, said Mr Laidlaw. "The change in approach was that the next attack was to be a suicide attack," said Mr Laidlaw. "The bombers, even though the attack was likely to result in their own deaths, were absolutely determined that the next vehicle would explode. There was to be no repeat of the failure of the devices in London." The next day, on Saturday June 30, the busiest day of the year at Glasgow airport, a Jeep packed with gas canisters was driven into the main doors of the terminal building with Ahmed at the wheel and Abdulla in the passenger seat. The men threw down petrol bombs in an effort to ensure the vehicle exploded. "Again fortune intervened to save those inside the terminal," Mr Laidlaw said. "The Jeep became trapped in the terminal doors and despite the best efforts of the bombers and although there was a fierce fire, the jeep did not explode."

The jury was told that the men had first met in 2004 and 2005, whilst staying at an Islamic centre in Cambridge, where Asha was working at Addenbrooke's Hospital. At some point the men, who all adhered to "extreme Islamic beliefs", decided to launch "revengeful" attacks on Britain, said Mr Laidlaw, because of what they saw as the country's "persecution" of Muslims in the Middle East. They spent six months planning the attacks, it is alleged, with e-mails between Ahmed and Abdulla talking about "experiments" in February 2007.

In April Abdulla rented a house in a quiet residential street near Paisley, Renfrewshire, 14 miles from Glasgow, where they could prepare and arm the vehicles, the court was told. Ahmed flew back to Britain in May after eight months in India, and within days he and Abdulla, a junior house officer in general surgery at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, had carried out reconnaissance in London, Mr Laidlaw said. Among the areas they visited were Aldgate in the City, Leicester Square, Charing Cross, Ludgate Hill, near the Old Bailey, and Upper St Martin's Lane, near the Haymarket. They were in frequent contact with Asha during the visit to London, Mr Laidlaw said. "It is as if Abdulla was reporting back, taking instructions from or seeking the approval of (Asha)," said Mr Laidlaw. Having bought three Mercedes cars, a BMW 525 and a Jeep through Autotrader magazine, the men bought gas canisters and large quantities of nails from B&Q and petrol cans from Halfords and duvets and pillows from Tesco and Asda to cover up the gas cylinders. Abdulla claims he never intended to kill or injure anyone, but was simply taking part in a protest, a defence dismissed as "ludicrous" by the prosecution. The trial continues.


Profiles of the men accused of car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow

Kafeel Ahmed

color-666">Kafeel Ahmed studied mechanical engineering in India. He died aged 28 from burns after the Glasgow attack

Steve Bird
From Times Online (London) October 9, 2008

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Kafeel Ahmed

Kafeel Ahmed was the son of two doctors and had studied mechanical engineering at university in his native India before travelling to Northern Ireland to take a masters degree in aeronautical engineering at Queens College, Belfast, between 2001 and 2003.

In 2004 he went to Cambridge to take a PhD at Anglia Ruskin University. The doctorate was due to be completed in 2007 but Ahmed was forced to abandon his studies and return to India in June that year because of illness in his family.

The student was allowed to continue his PhD on a part-time basis while based in Bangalore. He visited Britain in September 2006 and then in May 2007 for the attacks.

It was while in Cambridge in 2004 and 2005 that it is claimed he became good friends with the two defendants, who were studying medicine in the town. Ahmed's brother, Sabeel, was also studying to become a doctor in Cambridge.

Ahmed's life revolved around his religion. He lived at a flat in Gilbert Road owned by a charitable trust called The Islamic Academy. The property was rented out to "professional men" and had a prayer room where all four men were said to pray together.

The prosecution claim that he used the name "KingKafeel" on an internet instant messenger system used to communicate with Mr Abdulla.

He died aged 28 from burns four weeks after the Jeep laden with petrol and gas canisters was driven into the terminal building at Glasgow Aiport.

Ahmed's brother, Sabeel, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey earlier this year to an offence connected to the bombings but was not involved in the plot.

Sabeel Ahmed worked at the Warrington Hospital at the time of the attack and lived in shared accommodation in Ramilies Road, Liverpool.

Bilal Abdulla

Bilal Talal Abdul Samad Abdulla was born in Iraq and began studying for his medical career in Baghdad.

He graduated in medicine from the University of Baghdad in 2004 and then moved to Cambridge where he to took the exam to allow him to work and train as a doctor in the UK.

It was while living in Chesterton Road in Cambridge that the prosecution claim he became friends with Ahmed, who lived nearby, and Mr Asha.

After visiting Iraq between May and July 2006, Mr Abdulla joined the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Scotland, as a junior house officer in general surgery. He lived at hospital accommodation in its halls of residence in Corsebar Road in Paisley. The court heard that he gave hospital authorities Mr Asha's name as the friend to be contacted in the event of an emergency.

Mr Abdulla's passport shows that he had visited Iraq in May and July 2006, shortly before he took up his post in Scotland. It is claimed that the war in Iraq at this time provided the "principal motivation" for him becoming involved in the terrorist attacks in Britain.

Described in court as a "strictly observant Muslim", he was well known for being knowledgeable about the Koran.

Mr Abdulla, who speaks and reads Arabic, used the names "drbilalabdu" and "osaidosaid" during internet messenger conversations with Ahmed, the prosecution claim.

Mohammed Asha

Mohammed Jamil Abdelqader Asha was born in Saudi Arabia where he was recognised as a gifted child.

The strictly observant Muslim won a scholarship to read medicine at the University of Amman in Jordan. He was to become known in his profession as an "extremely talented doctor and a man of considerable potential", the jury was told.

He came to Britain in 2003 and trained at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, where it is claimed that he met Mr Abdulla, Ahmed and his brother, Sabeel.

After graduating in Jordan in 2004, he trained at the Prince Phillip Hospital in Llanelli in Wales before moving back to England and studying at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in Shropshire in August 2005.

At the time of the attacks he was working as a senior house officer in the neurology department at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.

He lives with his wife and a son called Anas, now two, at a rented property in Newcastle-Under-Lyme. He gave his co-defendant's name as a referee on the tenancy agreement for the property in Sunningdale Grove.

Mr Asha, also described as an "observant Muslim", and his family had been due to go on holiday in Jordan in mid-July last year, before the doctor took up his next medical post in neurosurgery at the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.

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