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Bombmaker guilty over role in Iraq

Published 21/05/2015

Anis Abid Sardar was convicted of murder
Anis Abid Sardar was convicted of murder

A British bombmaker has become the first person to be convicted in a UK court for playing a role in the bloody Iraqi insurgency following a "landmark prosecution".

"Highly dangerous" black cab driver Anis Abid Sardar, 38, from Wembley in north-west London, built improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as part of a "deadly" campaign to kill Americans fighting in the Middle Eastern country in 2007.

In what is believed to be a legal first, he was convicted today at London's Woolwich Crown Court of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

One of the lethal contraptions caused the death of 34 year-old Sergeant First Class Randy Johnson, of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment when it hit the armoured vehicle he was travelling in on September 27 2007.

Sardar was snared some seven years later after officials at the FBI's Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Centre (Tedac) found his fingerprints on some of the bombs.

The defendant remained calm as the verdicts were read out following more than 11 hours of deliberations by the jury of seven women and five men.

He was found guilty by a majority of 11-1 on the charge of murder and unanimously on the conspiracy to murder count. A count of conspiracy to cause an explosion was ordered to lie on file.

Sue Hemming, head of Special Crime and Counter Terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service, said in a statement: "This was a landmark prosecution that shows we will do everything in our power to ensure that international borders are no barrier to terrorists in the UK being brought to justice for murder committed anywhere in the world.

"Anis Sardar is a highly dangerous man who created bombs so large that not only did they tragically kill Sgt Randy Johnson, but they put other lives in danger and caused significant damage to heavily armoured US military vehicles.

"Although Anis Sardar's fingerprints were found only on two of the bombs, it is beyond doubt that he was part of a joint enterprise to make four such devices, and potentially many others, given their similarity and location.

"He knew precisely what he was doing and was working with murderous intent against coalition forces."

Sardar originally denied to police that he had been "directly or indirectly" involved in bombmaking.

But on the second day of his trial he admitted that fingerprints found on two of four devices found in or around the road west out of Baghdad and linked to the case were his.

Denying all the charges against him, he told the jury that he became involved in the Iraqi insurgency to protect his fellow Sunni Muslims from Shia militias.

He claimed American soldiers had not been his targets, blaming instead "the likes of Dick Cheney, George Bush and Tony Blair" for the deaths of US personnel.

Sardar was stopped at Heathrow and his fingerprints were taken after he made his way back to the UK from Syria some two months after Sgt Johnson was killed.

In 2012, officers who were searching his London home as part of a separate investigation found an Arab language bombmaking manual with references to Islam on a computer disc.

Police and prosecutors have not clarified how the British and American authorities worked together to identify Sardar as a suspect.

The device that killed Sgt Johnson did not carry Sardar's fingerprints, but all four bombs had prints from his co-conspirator, Sajjad Adnan.

Prosecutors said the two men had worked together and with others to build and plant them.

Adnan - who is not a British citizen - was arrested after the bombings and handed over to the Iraqi authorities. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Jurors heard that Sgt Johnson told his comrades "Don't let me die here" after he was fatally injured near the road between Baghdad and the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

Mark Aggers, who was serving as a gunner on the Stryker vehicle, was also left with serious shrapnel wounds, while three further servicemen suffered concussions.

Of the three other bombs linked to Sardar, two were recovered intact and one was safely detonated by a bomb disposal team.

But two soldiers from 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry Regiment were seriously injured when a sniper shot them as they guarded one of the devices on March 20 2007.

Private Jesus Bustamente received gun wounds to his left knee, lung, colon, kidney and liver in the attack, while Private First Class Joseph Bacani was hit in his right buttock.

Judge Mr Justice Globe will sentence Sardar at 10am tomorrow.

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