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Doctor convicted in British attacks

LONDON — A British jury Tuesday found a doctor from an Iraqi family guilty of plotting to murder on a mass scale in failed car bomb attacks last year in London and Glasgow.

Bilal Abdulla, 29, who practiced medicine in Britain, drove a Mercedes sedan packed with gas cylinders and nails into central London in June 2007 with the intent of killing hundreds, the prosecution said. After the homemade car bomb he had parked outside a crowded nightclub failed to detonate, Abdulla joined an attempted suicide attack the next day targeting Glasgow's airport, according to prosecutors.

He faces life in prison in connection with both attacks and is to be sentenced today.

In the Glasgow airport attack, Abdulla's Jeep ignited into a fireball when the driver, Kafeel Ahmed, rammed it into the main terminal; Ahmed, a 28-year-old engineering student from India, had doused himself with gasoline. In critical condition for a month, Ahmed died with burns over 90 percent of his body.

A second doctor who stood trial, Jordanian neurologist Mohammed Asha, 28, was acquitted of involvement in the attacks.

In lengthy testimony at the trial, Abdulla said he intended only to give people in Britain "a taste of fear" and a "scare" with the bombings, not to kill people. But the chief prosecutor, Jonathan Laidlaw, said the timing of the attacks, at the height of Friday night crowds in central London, and on Glasgow airport's busiest day of the year, showed that the attackers aimed at "committing murder on an indiscriminate and wholesale scale."

Abdulla said he had deep affection for Britain, where his father, also a doctor, was working when Abdulla was born. But he said he became angry when, as a medical student, he experienced the sharp deterioration in hospital conditions in Baghdad under Western-supported economic sanctions in the 1990s, and later when he saw the suffering that allied bombing and occupying troops imposed on Iraqi civilians in the war that began in 2003.

The prosecution said Abdulla had contacts with the Sunni insurgency in Iraq that began shortly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and introduced as evidence entries in a diary he kept while he was planning the bombings. The court saw a message that prosecutors said he had written praising al-Qaida: "I've learned from you to long for death."

Shoe-thrower faces court today

Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who hurled his shoes at President Bush on Sunday, is expected to appear before a judge today in a complex legal process that could lead to a criminal trial, a government official and the reporter's brother said. Iraqi authorities sent the case to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, which handles security and terrorism cases, and recommended charging Zeidi with insulting a foreign leader. Punishment on that charge can range from two years imprisonment to a small fine. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, meanwhile, said Iraqi leaders are the ones to decide whether punishment is appropriate for Zeidi.

Times wires

Doctor convicted in British attacks 12/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 12:59pm]

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