Glasgow bomber NHS doctor jailed for 32 years
An NHS doctor who plotted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow was today sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 32 years.
Bilal Abdulla, 29, attacked Glasgow airport in a Jeep laden with petrol and gas canisters in June last year, along with his friend Kafeel Ahmed. After the Jeep became stuck, the two men threw petrol bombs and fought with police before being overpowered. Abdulla was arrested at the scene. Ahmed, 28, an Indian engineering student, doused himself in petrol and set himself alight at the scene but died from burns a month later.
The Strathclyde police assistant chief constable, Campbell Corrigan, said the terrorists had attempted "to cause mayhem and mass murder at the airport".
The day before the airport attack the men had targeted late-night revellers in London's West End but the explosives in two cars – packed with more than 2,000 nails, petrol and gas canisters – failed to detonate.
Abdulla was convicted yesterday of conspiracy to murder and of two charges of conspiring to cause explosions. He was born in the UK but grew up in Baghdad and was angry about the invasion of Iraq by western forces.
Sentencing Abdulla at Woolwich crown court, Mr Justice Mackay told him he was a "religious extremist and bigot", who held the most extreme form of Islamist views.
He said that Abdulla had "strong reasons" for the invasion of Iraq, "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", said Mackay.
"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 Guardian has learned that Abdulla was on an MI5 watchlist, possibly for as long as 13 months, before he launched the car bombing campaign. Last night, Whitehall officials said MI5 held "tracers" on Abdulla that included information which 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.
Abdulla's lawyer, Jim Sturman QC, said yesterday 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," said Sturman.
Another NHS doctor, Mohammed Asha, 28, was yesterday cleared of all charges. He was arrested near Manchester as he travelled south on the M6 with his wife a few hours after the Glasgow attack.
Asha, a Jordanian born in Saudi Arabia, was not in London or Glasgow when the attacks took place but the prosecution accused him of providing financial support and spiritual guidance.
Jim Sturman QC, says it was "perfectly reasonable" for NHS terrorist doctors, who blew up Glasgow airport, "to support violent insurgency in Iraq"
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