(photo credit: AP)
An Iraqi doctor who allegedly berated others at Cambridge for not being devout Muslims is the first to be charged in connection with the failed car bombings in London and Glasgow, British police said Friday.
Bilal Abdullah, 27, arrested at Glasgow airport after the Jeep Cherokee he was riding in rammed into a terminal building, was charged Friday with conspiring to cause explosions, Scotland Yard said.
Seven other suspects remained in custody, including the alleged driver of the Jeep, hospitalized with severe burns.
"Other individuals arrested by the police in connection with the bomb attacks remain in custody pending a charging decision," said prosecutor Susan Hemming.
Hemming said the charge would relate to attacks in both London and Glasgow.
"I have now made the decision that there is sufficient evidence and authorized the charging of Bilal Abdullah with conspiracy to cause explosions following incidents in London and Glasgow on 29 June 2007 and 30 June 2007," she said.
Abdullah likely is to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday.
Witnesses said Abdullah appeared calm and collected as he and an accomplice crashed a Jeep Cherokee into Glasgow's Airport and then set it on fire in an attempt to ignite crude bombs.
"It was as if they were waiting there to get
blown up," said police Sgt. Torquil Campbell, who apprehended Abdullah and the Jeep's driver, Khalid Ahmed, in the packed airport terminal hall.
The Iraqi-born doctor was known by others as intense militant Muslim at the University of Cambridge. His status at the university is unclear but records show he graduated in Baghdad in 2004.
He also allegedly rented an apartment in Cambridge and frequently visited the city where his grandmother and an uncle lived, according to his friends.
Shiraz Maher, himself a former member of a radical Islamic group, said he remembered Abdullah berating a Muslim roommate for not being devout enough, showing him a beheading video and warning that could happen to him.
Maher said Abdullah also claimed to have a number of videos of the then-leader of al Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by a US airstrike last year.
"He was certainly very angry about what was happening in Iraq. ... He supported the insurgency in Iraq. He actively cheered the deaths of British and American troops in Iraq," Maher told British Broadcasting Corp. television.
It was in Cambridge that Abdullah is believed to have come to know suspect Mohammed Asha, when Asha worked at the Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. Asha was arrested June 30 with his wife, Marwa, on a highway in central England.
Details have emerged to show that Abdullah seems to be the key link between the suspects arrested in connection with the failed attacks. He reportedly had links to radical Islamic groups on the MI5 database, British security officials said speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
At the time of the attacks, Abdullah was working under supervision at the Royal Alexandra Hospital outside Glasgow.
He had been disciplined by his employers for spending too much time on the Internet, according to hospital staff, suggesting the plot may have been planned in cyberspace. Police said they seized several computers from hospitals in Glasgow and other cities.
After work, Abdullah would return to a rented house in Glasgow, which a British security official said authorities believed was the site where the plotters made the bombs used in both the London and the airport attacks.