Current News


London Bombers Sped to Glasgow, Authorities Say

Published: July 6, 2007

HOUSTON, Scotland, July 5 — British investigators have concluded that the two men who carried out an attack at Glasgow’s international airport last Saturday had sped there after a failed attempt to bomb a nightclub in central London, a British security official said Thursday.

And, for the first time, witnesses, a neighbor and the police have provided descriptions of the two men — Dr. Bilal Abdulla and Dr. Khalil Ahmed — saying they may have lived together intermittently in this placid neighborhood outside Glasgow and that a Jeep Cherokee similar to the one used to crash into an airport terminal was seen speeding around in the weeks before the botched bombings.

A week after the intended bombings in London and Glasgow — with the potential to kill scores of late-night revelers and travelers — law enforcement officials say that the evidence emerging is that the two doctors were the main operatives, if not the leaders, of a network of other medical professionals.

The manager of a local cab company said in an interview on Thursday that on two occasions over a five-week period from the end of May to the end of June a taxi picked up the two men together, suggesting that they could have been sharing a home here from time to time.

In one of those instances, according to Denis O’Donnell, the manager of the Paisley Cab Company, the taxi driver dropped off a man whom he now believes to be Dr. Ahmed at a local Asda supermarket, about halfway between the house Dr. Abdulla had been renting since April on Neuk Crescent here and the Royal Alexandra Hospital in nearby Paisley where he worked.

Much still remains unknown about the plot, including whether it was planned inside Britain, in Iraq or elsewhere. Altogether, eight suspects are in police custody in the case.

Charles MacPherson, 34, who lives in a development near the Nuek Crescent cul-de-sac where Dr. Abdulla rented his home, said Thursday that the neighborhood’s tranquillity recently was roiled by a speeding vehicle resembling the one used in the Glasgow attack.

“Someone has been driving this green Jeep at high speeds up and down the road,” he said. “It stands out because it’s the only Jeep in the area.”

A British security official, who spoke anonymously under government rules, said investigators now believed that Dr. Abdulla and Dr. Ahmed had also tried to set off two car bombs in London a day before the fiery airport attack in Glasgow.

In the early hours of last Friday, the police discovered a silver green Mercedes outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in London’s Haymarket. An ambulance crew saw what was thought to be smoke in the vehicle and called the police. A police officer removed a detonation device that used a cellphone, police officials said at the time. The Mercedes was packed with gasoline, gas canisters and nails.

A short time later, a second Mercedes laden with the same dangerous cargo was discovered in a “no parking” zone near Haymarket and towed away. Afterward, the police said that this vehicle, a navy blue Mercedes, had also been primed to explode but had failed to detonate.

An American visitor, Eric Wolff, who saw the blue car, wrote in an e-mail message to The New York Times: “I just missed a 2:34 a.m. bus to Marylebone Road and ended up waiting until 3:34 for the next bus to arrive. I was standing at the bus stop in front of the blue Mercedes when it was towed.”

“The car was small and squarish, probably more than a few years old. The city came in with a ‘tow truck’ that lifted the car straight up with a crane mechanism and placed it on the truck bed,” Mr. Wolff wrote. “One of the tow guys took several pictures of the car with a digital camera as the car was being processed.”

As depicted by British security officials, the events unfolded after Dr. Abdulla and Dr. Ahmed drove the Mercedes down the 400 miles of highway from Glasgow to London, possibly on a route that led close to towns like Halton in Cheshire and Newcastle-Under-Lyme in Staffordshire, linked to other people believed to be associated with the alleged conspiracy.

But their plan went awry when the explosives failed to detonate for reasons that have not been made public. The two men returned to Glasgow and resolved to use the green Jeep Cherokee in an attack they might have rehearsed a few days earlier when they took a Paisley cab to Glasgow’s airport, according to the authorities.

The motives behind the second attack remain opaque. “They probably knew they were going to be discovered and made one last attempt to execute a switch to Glasgow,” said another law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But, this official said, investigators are not sure whether the Glasgow episode was a reaction to the failure of the first attack or had been planned all along. “It may have been a knee-jerk reaction to a failed attack,” the official said.

“If this was Plan B” in Glasgow, the British security official said, “I’m not sure what Plan A was.” Dr. Ahmed was so badly burned from the attack that he has not been questioned, while Dr. Abdulla has spoken to investigators.

There were suggestions Thursday that those now under suspicion of attempting attacks on London and Glasgow had spent time together in Cambridge — one of Britain’s premier university towns. The BBC reported that four of those being questioned were in the city in 2005 and that a “Cambridge connection” had been identified.

Hicham Kweider, secretary of the Cambridge Muslim Welfare Society, said he had met Dr. Abdulla in the city in 2005.

Speaking to the BBC, Shiraz Maher, who described himself as a former member of the radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, said he recognized both Dr. Abdulla and Dr. Ahmed from his days in Cambridge.

Mohammed Asha, who was also arrested by the police heading north on an English motorway, was reported by the British news media to have worked at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Another suspect, Sabeel Ahmed, possibly the brother of Dr. Ahmed, was also reported to have been in the city at the time.

A British official speaking on condition of anonymity said, “What the authorities are trying to piece together is whether there is a point in this country where they were all active, but that’s an angle they are exploring.”

He added that the security services “will be looking at family connections, association — business and social; they will be building up concentric circles around each and seeing where they cross.”

In Houston, Mr. O’Donnell, the cab company manager, said that Paisley Cab had provided the police with a CD containing all recordings of its phone conversations with the Neuk Crescent household. The company digitally stores such information for 90 days, he said.

Mr. O’Donnell said the company picked up Dr. Abdulla going to or from work about 20 times from May 22 to June 28. During the two times that Dr. Abdulla and Dr. Ahmed were passengers together in his taxis, Mr. O’Donnell said, “both men were well dressed and had a good command of the English language. They were pleasant and made small talk with my drivers.”

Daniel Gardiner, 41, the owner of the Let-It property leasing company in Paisley — which rented the two-bedroom brick and cement home on Neuk Crescent to Dr. Abdulla — said Dr. Abdulla took out a six-month lease at the end of April. He was paying $1,150 monthly rent.

“The whole thing was normal in every way,” Mr. Gardiner said. “We ran a full credit check and since he had a British passport, it was easy.”

He said that Dr. Abdulla had provided a reference from an employer and that two different Let-It employees interviewed Dr. Abdulla as part of the application process. Mr. Gardiner said that Dr. Abdulla paid for the next month’s rent last week by check.

This has led Mr. Gardiner to speculate that the Glasgow attack was a hastily planned reaction to the failure of the London plot.

“Would you have paid your last rent check knowing you were going to kill yourself?” he asked.

Let-It has turned over to the police both the photocopies and originals of the documentation used for Dr. Abdulla’s lease, Mr. Gardiner said. “The police are looking for fingerprints,” he said.

Dr. Abdulla’s property was due a visit from Let-It at the end of July. “It’s standard to inspect our rental properties every three months,” Mr. Gardiner said.

“It makes sense that only Dr. Abdulla would have wanted to be on the lease, even though anyone living in the home is supposed to be on the lease,” Mr. Gardiner said. “His British passport made clearance easy.”



The Power Hour:
(7-10am CST)
···Listen Live

Listen FREE thru Global Star Satellite Feed






All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:

Copyright © 2007. The Power Hour. All rights reserved.