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Briton 'made deadly Iraq bombs'

Published 28/04/2015

The trial is being held at Woolwich Crown Court
The trial is being held at Woolwich Crown Court

A British bomb-maker built improvised explosive devices with "deadly intent" in a campaign against American soldiers in Iraq, a court heard.

In what is thought to be a legal first, Anis Abid Sardar is being tried at London's Woolwich Crown Court over his alleged role in the Iraqi insurgency.

Sardar, 38, from Wembley in north west London, is accused of making bombs in Syria that were planted on the road west out of Baghdad throughout 2007.

One of them is said to have 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.

Other US soldiers were seriously injured by the blast and also in a firefight while dealing with another IED that Sardar had made, the court heard.

Opening the case, prosecutor Max Hill QC told the jury of five men and seven women: "This is an unusual trial, in that almost all of the evidence you will hear and see comes from Iraq.

"The offences, we say, are the most serious imaginable, and the British link is the fact that the defendant, a British citizen, lives and works here.

"For that reason, it is lawful to place him on trial in London, even though the activities you will hear about too place far away in Iraq.

"The Crown's case is that the defendant Mr Sardar was directly involved in making bombs for use in Iraq during 2007.

"As you will hear, he seems to have been based in Syria, probably in the capital city Damascus at relevant times."

The court heard that Sardar claims to have travelled to Syria to learn Arabic, but documents found at his London home suggested an advanced understanding of the language.

Police searching the property also found an Arabic language bomb-making manual.

Mr Hill added: "The Crown say therefore that whilst it may be true that he was studying languages, he was without doubt involved in bomb-making, whether in Syria or in neighbouring Iraq.

"During the period with which we are concerned, namely several months during 2007, a number of bombs or improvised explosive devices were found buried under the roads leading west from Baghdad in Iraq.

"One of those bombs detonated fully as a US military vehicle passed over it, killing Sergeant Johnson.

"Several other bombs were recovered, in at least one instance after a firefight in which further US military soldiers were injured."

Mr Hill said the devices linked to the case "were not off-the-shelf bombs, they were made with deadly intent".

They were later taken from Iraq to an FBI lab in the US for examination by experts.

The bombs allegedly made by Sardar were found on the road from Baghdad to the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

But the prosecuting barrister said the trial had "nothing to do with the rights and the wrongs" of the second Iraq War or the current strife in Syria.

Two bombs were recovered which had fingerprints left by Sardar, the court heard.

These devices and another two also had the fingerprints of another man, Sajjad Adnan.

Mr Hill said that the two men had been working together and with others to build the bombs and plant them.

The bomb that killed Sgt Johnson was only found to have a fingerprint left by Adnan.

"That bomb was part of a sequence, involving bombs concealed geographically quite close together, all as part of a joint effort by the defendant Mr Sardar, together with Adnan and others," Mr Hill said.

"That is why it is unnecessary for Mr Sardar to have left his own finger mark on the bomb which killed Sergeant Johnson."

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

Sardar denies murder, conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion.

Of the four bombs recovered that were later linked to Sardar and Adnan, two were intact and one was safely detonated by a bomb disposal team.

The device that killed Sgt Johnson went off when the Stryker armoured vehicle he was travelling in went through a dip in the road.

It blow a hole in the bottom of the vehicle beneath where Sergeant Johnson was standing and he took the full force of the blast, while four other soldiers were also injured.

Despite attempts to save his life aboard a Medevac helicopter his injuries were too severe and he was pronounced dead.

Sgt Johnson, originally from Washington DC, was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart military decoration for US service personnel killed or injured while serving.

Two soldiers - Jesus Bustamente and Joseph Bustamente of 2-5 Cavalry - had already suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen and the knee when trying to retrieve the second bomb linked to Sardar on March 21 2007.

The device that was safely detonated caused a "massive explosion" and a cloud of about 150 feet, the court heard.

The bombs were first analysed by US authorities in Iraq after they were retrieved by frontline soldiers and then taken to the US for investigation by the FBI's Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Centre (TEDAC).

The "detailed" scientific process ended last year, after which Sardar was arrested.

Police had already searched his home in 2012 and found a computer disc with a 26-page manual in Arabic entitled A Special Course In Manufacturing Explosives, which included references to Islam, the court heard.

The manual's subtitle was "For the fighting sect protesting the right until God's will is implemented" and i t included sections such as explosive substances, fuses and detonators.

Mr Hill said that, according to an expert, the recipes included in the document were "viable" and could be used to produce explosive material.

He added: "Whoever made the bombs we are considering did so with murderous intent.

"These were anti-personnel devices, large bombs made with the deliberate aim of causing maximum damage, injury and loss of life.

"They were made with clear knowledge as to their viability and their ability to kill.

"By the finding of the fingerprints you can be sure that Mr Sardar was one of those who acted with that knowledge and intent."

The defendant returned to the UK on November 22 2007, two months after Sgt Johnson's death, the court heard.

He later claimed to have spent 10 years in Damascus, from 1997 to 2007, studying Arabic and denied that he had ever been to Iraq or been involved in the preparation of IEDs.

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