Glasgow bomber Bilal Abdulla jailed for 32 years
An NHS doctor who tried to kill and maim thousands of people in terrorist car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow was jailed for 32 years today.
Slumped in the dock, Bilal Abdulla, 29, showed no emotion as he was told that he was a “religious extremist and bigot” who had a distorted view of Islam.
Sentencing him at Woolwich Crown Court, Mr Justice Mackay said that the junior doctor had squandered his privileged upbringing and career as a doctor to wage a terrorist campaign against the Britain.
“Many people felt and still feel strong opposition to the invasion of Iraq,” he said.
“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.”
Abdulla, an Iraqi national who was born in Britain, was found guilty of conspiracy to murder and cause explosion on Tuesday after an eight-week trial.
The judge said that Abdulla’s radical religious and political beliefs meant that he continued to be a danger to the British public.
“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,” the judge said.
“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.”
Abdulla was the leader of a terrorist cell that tried to detonate car bombs in the West End of London and Glasgow in June last year.
The doctor, along with Kafeel Ahmed, drove a car bomb outside the Tiger Tiger night club in the West End of the capital, and parked another at a nearby bus stop.
When both devices, packed with petrol canisters and nails, failed to detonate they fled to Glasgow and decided to carry out a suicide attack on the city’s airport.
Abdulla, who worked at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Glasgow, launched a desperate attempt to blow up a Jeep packed with gas cylinders and petrol as Ahmed drove it into the airport terminal.
Both men were wrestled to the ground and arrested. The only victim of the attacks was Ahmed, an Indian PhD student, who suffered severe burns after pouring petrol over his head and setting himself alight. He died a month later in hospital.
Abdulla’s close friend Mohammed Asha, a 28-year-old Jordanian neurologist, was acquitted of the same charges.
He has begun his legal battle against deportation after pledging to stay in Britain to continue his medical training.
Speaking about the West End attacks, the judge said that the men thoroughly researched the gas cylinder bombs and the mobile phone detonators on the internet.
“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 that when the bombs failed to explode, the terrorists immediately turned to a potentially deadly second plan.
The judge said that the pair’s “grand finale” was the attack on the Scottish airport.
He said: “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.
The judge said that 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, Mohammed Asha, in interview.
The court heard evidence that Mr 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.
He said: “The seriousness of terrorist offences should never be a reason for anything other than the best of good practice.”