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World News

Iraqi doctor guilty of British car bomb plots

LONDON (Reuters) - An Iraqi doctor was convicted on Tuesday of planning to bomb a nightclub in central London and a packed Scottish airport a day later last year in order to commit murder on an “indiscriminate and wholesale scale.”

Bilal Abdulla is seen in this undated police handout photograph, received in London December 16, 2008. REUTERS/Metropolitan Police/Handout

Bilal Abdulla, 29, was part of an Islamist cell that planned a series of spectacular bombings and which then made a dramatic suicide ram-raid attack on Glasgow Airport when the original plans failed.

Abdulla, along with Kafeel Ahmed, had wanted to punish the British people for their country’s perceived persecution of Palestinian Muslims and those in Afghanistan and Iraq, Woolwich Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said their plans only failed because of a mixture of good fortune and technical mistakes which meant the devices did not explode.

Abdulla was found guilty of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions. Jordanian doctor Mohammed Asha, 28, who was accused of providing guidance and funding for the attacks, was cleared of the same charges.

Abdulla will be sentenced at a later stage. Ahmed, an Indian engineer, died of wounds sustained in the attack on Glasgow airport and was not on trial.

Police sources said the plot was not inspired by al Qaeda in Iraq but by a small group of malcontents.

ABDULLA “LOVED ENGLAND”

In the London attacks, two Mercedes cars packed with gas canisters, fuel containers and nails were driven down from Scotland and left in the busy West End area of the capital in the early hours of June 29, 2007.

One was parked outside Tiger Tiger, a nightclub packed with more than 550 people near Piccadilly Circus, and the second was left nearby close to a night bus stop.

Prosecutors and police have suggested the second car was deliberately placed to catch those fleeing from the first explosion. However, despite repeated attempts to set off the mobile phone detonators in the cars, neither vehicle exploded.

Abdulla and Ahmed escaped in rickshaws and the gang dramatically changed their plans, aware that the police would be on their trail through clues left in the cars. The next day, the bombers drove to Scotland with police hot on their heels.

They drove a Jeep, also packed with fuel containers and gas canisters, at speed into the international terminal at Glasgow Airport on what was its busiest day of the year but it failed to explode despite attempts to detonate it using petrol bombs.

Kafeel Ahmed, 28, the driver of the Jeep and also the bombmaker according to police, died from burns he sustained, while Abdulla, who was in the passenger seat, survived.

He denied plotting to kill anyone and told the court he “loved England” and thought they were going to Glasgow to flee the country.

The Iraqi -- a junior doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, west of Glasgow -- said the attacks were a stunt to bring attention to Britain’s role in Iraq.

However, he admitted he hated the U.S. government and supported insurgents fighting in his homeland.

Prosecutors said their aim had been to cause fear on a scale generated by the July 7, 2005 London bombings, the capital’s worst peacetime attacks by militants, which killed 52 people.

Editing by Louise Ireland

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