Glasgow bomber Bilal Abdulla jailed for 32 years (Lead)

December 17th, 2008 - 8:24 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 17 (IANS) Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdulla, who along with an India-born accomplice staged the Glasgow airport bombings in 2007, was Wednesday sentenced to a 32-year prison term.The second accused in the case, neurologist Mohammad Asha, was acquitted of all charges. He will be transferred to an immigration detention centre pending an attempt to deport him to his native Jordan. His solicitor said that the doctor wanted to continue his career and would fight the deportation.

At the end of a nine-week trial, a jury at Woolwich Crown Court Tuesday found Abdulla guilty of conspiracy to murder and to cause explosions.

Announcing the sentence Wednesday, Justice Mackay told Abdulla he was a “religious extremist and a bigot” who held the most extreme form of Islamist views.

The judge said Abdulla had “strong reasons” about the invasion of Iraq. He observed: “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. 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.”

Abdulla showed no emotion as the sentence was read out to him.

Abdulla’s lawyer, Jim Sturman, said Tuesday that his client was “motivated by politics, not religion”. “This is not a case where his intention was driven by religious faith but by his frustration with what he saw as an unjust war.”

The only victim of the two failed attacks in London and Glasgow in June, 2007 was Kafeel Ahmed, Abdulla’s accomplice, a PhD student from India. He died from the severe burns that he suffered after driving the car bomb into the airport terminal.

According to The Times, the police are satisfied that Abdulla was the leader of the terrorist cell and had indoctrinated and radicalised Ahmed, whose engineering skills he needed to construct the bombs.

Abdulla, the son of a physician couple who had trained in Britain before returning to Iraq with their five-year-old son, had witnessed both the first and second invasions of his home country by allied forces.

A Sunni, he came to harbour a passionate hatred of Shia Muslims. The Times quotes US sources saying that before he arrived in Britain he was known to have associated with a Sunni terrorist cell in Baghdad and played a backroom role, possibly as a quartermaster.

According to sources quoted by the newspaper, the car bombs he tried to detonate outside the Tiger nightclub and at Glasgow airport were the first terrorist attacks in Britain to have been inspired - but not directed - by Al Qaeda in Iraq. Previous Islamist plots have had connections to Al Qaeda and extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Guardian reported that it has learnt that Abdulla was on the watchlist of British agency MI5 for as long as 13 months before he launched the car bomb campaign. It has quoted government officials as saying that MI5 held “tracers” on Abdulla that included information that proved helpful to the police once he was identified as one of the bombers.

However, the officials insisted there was no evidence available to them at the time to show he was plotting a terrorist attack.

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