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Iraqi doctor in court over bomb plots
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11:05, July 09, 2007

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Impassive and staring straight ahead, an Iraqi doctor has appeared in court, the first suspect to face charges over a plot to bomb London's entertainment district and Glasgow's main airport.

Police stepped up security across the capital on Saturday, where Prime Minister Gordon Brown laid flowers outside one of the train stations hit exactly two years ago in suicide bombings that killed 52 commuters and exposed Britain's vulnerability to homegrown terrorists.

Bilal Abdullah, a 27-year-old doctor born in Britain and raised in Iraq, appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday amid tight security after he and another man allegedly crashed a Jeep Cherokee laden with gas cylinders and gasoline into the main terminal of Scotland's busiest airport.

Accused of conspiring to cause explosions, he is the first person to be charged among eight suspects detained over the foiled car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow a week ago.

Stocky, unshaven and wearing a white sweat shirt, Abdullah sat in the dock flanked by plainclothes security officers, speaking only to confirm his name and date of birth during the brief hearing.

His lawyers did not seek bail, and judge Anthony Evans ordered Abdullah held at a high-security prison until his next hearing at London's Central Criminal Court on July 27.

Iraqi authorities were gathering information about Abdullah and will cooperate with British authorities, Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Abdul-Karim Khalaf said on Saturday.

He said the ministry was trying to establish whether Abdullah was part of Al-Qaida or belonged to other insurgent groups.

Seven other people are in custody in connection with the attacks, but have not been charged.

Two cars packed with gas cylinders and nails were discovered June 29 in the busy heart of London's West End - one outside a crowded nightclub, the other near Trafalgar Square. The next day, a Jeep Cherokee smashed in flames into the security barriers at Glasgow airport.

The charge against Abdullah refers to a plot taking place between January 1 and July 1, suggesting prosecutors believe the attacks were planned well in advance.

Prosecutors suspect Abdullah and Kafeel Ahmed, believed to be the driver of the Jeep, carried out the attempted bombings in London before returning to Scotland - where Abdullah worked at a Glasgow-area hospital - and attacking the airport.

Britain remains on "severe" terrorism alert - the second-highest level - in the wake of the attacks. Police added patrols around London on one of the busiest tourist weekends of the summer.

The first leg of the Tour de France bicycle race was taking place in the city on Saturday, along with the women's final of Wimbledon tennis tournament and a Live Earth concert headlined by Madonna.

The city marked the anniversary of the July 7, 2005 bombings with a simple and somber ceremony outside King's Cross rail and subway station. Fifty-two commuters died along with four bombers on three subway trains and a double-decker bus. More than 700 people were injured in the rush-hour attacks.

Counterterrorism agents claim they have foiled several attacks in Britain since the July 7 bombs, including a plot to blow up several trans-Atlantic flights.

Seven suspects remain in custody in the car-bomb plot - six in Britain and one in Australia.

Source: China Daily/agencies

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