Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Friday, 10 October 2008 14:24 UK

Bomb suspects 'fled in rickshaws'

Bilal Abdulla and Mohammed Asha
Bilal Abdulla (L) and Mohammed Asha

Two alleged terrorists escaped in rickshaws after leaving car bombs close to a night club in central London, Woolwich Crown Court has been told.

The devices planted by Dr Bilal Abdulla and now-deceased Kafeel Ahmed were found after Tiger Tiger staff called an ambulance for a customer, jurors heard.

CCTV footage said to show the men driving a car filled with explosives into Glasgow airport was also shown.

Dr Abdulla, 29, and Dr Mohammed Asha, 27, deny conspiracy to murder.

Dr Abdullah, from Paisley, and Dr Asha, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, who is alleged to have helped in the planning, also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to cause explosions.

Gas vapour

The court was told Dr Abdulla was the passenger in a Jeep Cherokee 4X4 driven by Mr Ahmed into the doorway of Glasgow airport's terminal on the afternoon of 30 June 2007 - the day after the failed London attacks.

There were 556 customers in the nightclub on the night the bombs were discovered.

We suggest that the purpose of placing nails in the cars is too obvious to state. But it does provide a clear sign as to what the bombers intended
Jonathan Laidlaw QC

Two cars, packed with gas canisters, petrol and nearly 900 nails, were left outside the nightclub and a bus stop in the West End, but failed to explode because the initiation devices did not work properly, the jury has already been told.

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC said Abdulla parked a green Mercedes car outside the nightclub in Haymarket at 1.24am.

It was only discovered after staff called an ambulance to treat a customer who had injured their ankle by falling down stairs, the court heard.

The club's bouncer and manager noticed gas vapour and a strong smell of petroleum vapour coming from the car as they met paramedics at about 1.40am.

A fireman who arrived at the scene opened the Mercedes' door and pulled a gas canister from its rear footwell.

Mr Laidlaw said it was at that point the potential seriousness of the situation emerged, the Bomb Squad were called to the scene and the area was evacuated.

"It follows that for something like five minutes or so, members of the emergency services as well as those in the club had been in very close proximity to the green Mercedes before the very great danger they were in was appreciated," he said.

The second car, a blue Mercedes, was parked by Ahmed at 1.18am in Cockspur Street near the nightclub. It was noticed by a traffic warden who issued it with a ticket.

At 3.14am it was towed away to a car pound in Park Lane, where it was later made safe with a remote device after police realised it contained a bomb.

Umbrella shield

An expert who was consulted said the car bombs would have created an explosion or a series of explosions if they had been successful, Mr Laidlaw told the court.

They probably failed to ignite because there was not enough oxygen for flames to burn as the fuel-air ratio in the vehicles had become too high, the court heard.

Mr Laidlaw said the prosecution suggested the purpose of placing nails in the cars was "too obvious to state".

"But it does provide, we argue, a clear sign as to what the bombers intended and it will no doubt be a factor you will want to think about when considering Abdulla's defence, " he said.

Prosecutors said the two suspects were captured on CCTV leaving the area in the early hours of that morning.

Mr Laidlaw said the CCTV captured Kafeel Ahmed dumping an umbrella which he had apparently been carrying to shield his face from cameras.

He boarded a rickshaw in Piccadilly Circus at 1.39am and Dr Abdulla used the same method to get away from the area, he went on.

The pair met again in Edgware Road at 2.05am, just 30 minutes after they had left the bomb-rigged cars, the court heard.

The trial continues.

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