LONDON – An Iraqi doctor on trial for allegedly attempting a suicide bombing in Britain testified Tuesday that he supported Sunni insurgents in his homeland but felt no grudge against the British people.
Bilal Abdulla is accused of being the passenger in a flaming Jeep that in June 2007 smashed into an airport entrance in Glasgow, Scotland. He is also accused of participating in two failed car bomb attempts in London. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to murder and cause explosions.
The driver of the Jeep was badly burned and died.
Abdulla, 29 — testifying for the first time in his defense at Woolwich Crown Court — said he was born in England, held a British passport, had studied at Cambridge and regarded Britain as his home.
However, he spent most of his life in Iraq, having moved back with his family when he was 4 and returning to Britain only in 2002.
Abdulla, a Sunni Muslim, said he had supported the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to overthrow Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and even tried in 2002 to join the British army.
But over time, he said, he was shocked by the brutality of Western forces. He said he also was upset because he believed Iraq was being dominated by its Shiite Muslim majority.
He said the Iraqi government, the police and the army were all dominated by Shiites.
"We had gangsters that were kidnapping girls from schools and killing them," he said. "We were not able to go to our universities, and the country was literally in chaos. We did not have water, or electricity, or anything at all."
His lawyer, Jim Sturman, asked him if he supported the Sunni resistance.
"Definitely. I looked high upon those fighting the invaders," Abdulla said.
He said he hated the U.S. government, and was shocked that British soldiers failed to stop Shiite Muslims from driving the Sunni population out of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city.
He said he did not "have any hatred toward any individual person anywhere in this country or other countries," but that "after months of waiting for reform and change, I then started to see the discrimination that the Americans were taking over the country."
Abdulla's co-defendant — fellow doctor Mohammed Asha, 28 — has also pleaded not guilty to the charges.