Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Bomb plot doctor jailed for life

Bilal Abdulla
Abdulla plotted to set off car bombs in busy spots in London and Glasgow

An NHS doctor from Iraq convicted of plotting to commit mass murder has been sentenced to at least 32 years in jail.

Bilal Abdulla, 29, was found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court of conspiracy to murder by planning car bomb attacks in 2007, with accomplice Kafeel Ahmed.

Car bombs were left outside a nightclub and in a street in London's West End on 29 June, but failed to detonate.

A day later a burning Jeep filled with gas canisters was driven into Glasgow Airport. Ahmed died from his injuries.

'Dangerous man'

Abdulla was found guilty of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.

Mr Justice Mackay sentencing said Abdulla was a "religious extremist and a bigot" who held the most extreme form of Islamist views.

You were both undeterred and immediately put the second attack into effect, which had probably been designed as the grand finale of your conspiracy

Mr Justice Mackay

The judge told him: "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."

A third man, Jordanian NHS doctor Mohammed Asha, was cleared of any involvement but now faces deportation.

His lawyers said Dr Asha, who remains in custody, would fight to stay in the UK so he can resume his medical career.

Suicide attack

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said Abdulla's conviction underlined the "serious and sustained threat" from terrorism facing the UK.

The London attacks happened outside Tiger Tiger in Haymarket and in nearby Cockspur Street. Abdulla and Ahmed then launched a suicide attack at Glasgow Airport.

In each case it was good fortune alone that there had been no loss of innocent life, prosecutors said.

Mohammed Asha's solicitor on his client's plans to resist deportation

Speaking about the London attacks, the judge said: "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."

He added: "You were both undeterred and immediately put the second attack into effect, which had probably been designed as the grand finale of your conspiracy."

Abdulla, who was born in the UK, admitted in court that he was "a terrorist" as defined by English law.

He went on to say he believed the British government and Army could equally be accused of terrorism for their actions in Iraq.

But he added he had wanted to frighten people rather than murder them.

Bright future

During the nine-week trial, Dr Asha admitted knowing Abdulla and Ahmed but denied any knowledge of their attacks.

The 28-year-old neurologist, cleared on Tuesday of plotting to murder and cause explosions, is said to be disappointed not to have walked free after his acquittal.

After Abdulla was sentenced, Dr Asha said in a statement read by his lawyer Tayab Ali that the accusations had "obliterated" his life and that of his family.

He said they had been living under a "heavy cloud of the most serious allegations possible" and that justice was not being done.

Dr Asha reiterated his innocence and said he would fight deportation.

Dr Mohammed Asha

Dr Asha was served with deportation papers after his highly skilled migrant programme visa expired while he was on remand.

At the time of his arrest on 30 June last year on the M6 motorway in Cheshire, Dr Asha had been working for the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, in Stoke-on-Trent.

He was living in Sunningdale Grove, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

He had been due to go on holiday in Jordan with his family in mid-July last year, before taking up a post in neurosurgery at Coventry's Walsgrave Hospital.

Jurors heard Dr Asha was a strictly observant Muslim with a very bright future in neurology.

One colleague told the court he would not be surprised if Dr Asha became Britain's top neurologist.

Consultant neurosurgeon Rupert Price said he gave Dr Asha a glowing reference, the best he had ever written.

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