Britain jails Iraqi doctor for terror plots, as Brown orders troops out
Bilal Abdulla received life in prison for a 2007 attack on the Glasgow airport and a foiled plot against a London nightclub.
An Iraqi doctor was sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday for his part in two terror plots in Britain. The twin attacks in June 2007 – an improvised car bomb at Glasgow International Airport and a foiled nightclub bombing in London - were revenge acts for Britain's role in invading Iraq. But British police believe Bilal Abdulla probably acted with a group of conspirators in the United Kingdom and not on the orders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, as had been suggested at the time.Skip to next paragraph
Israeli general hints at another Gaza campaign
Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria
See no evil? Activists doubt credibility of Arab League mission to Syria.
Arab League observers head to Syria's war-ravaged Homs
Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The sentencing of Mr. Abdulla at a court in London came on the same day that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced a complete withdrawal of British combat forces in Iraq by next July. On a visit to Iraq, Mr. Brown said military operations would end on May 31 and 4,100 service personnel would leave within two months. Several hundred British soldiers, however, would stay on to train Iraqi troops.
The BBC reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a joint press conference with Brown that Iraq had reached an agreement on extending Britain's military presence into 2009, a highly contentious issue in Iraq. But the two leaders said it wasn't likely to be used beyond the July deadline.
Mr. Brown said people had been given an "economic stake in the future of Iraq" and said: "I am proud of the contribution British forces have made. They are the pride of Britain and the best in the world."
In their joint statement, the leaders said the role played by the UK combat forces was "drawing to a close" but the partnership between Britain and Iraq would "continue to take on new dimensions" and be strengthened.
Bloomberg reports that British troops in Iraq peaked at more than 40,000 in 2003. Since 2007, Britain has drawn down troops and shifted more servicemen to NATO operations in Afghanistan. Most of its military personnel in Iraq are currently stationed at an air base outside Basra. British troops in Afghanistan are now more than double the size of the deployment in Iraq.
Brown has been under pressure from officers to ease the burden on the British army, which has been pushed to the limit by the twin deployments. He has said diminished violence in southern Iraq fully justifies the exit....
The U.K. won't be able to re-deploy all of its remaining troops in Iraq to Afghanistan when their mission is over without doing long-term damage to its forces, General Jock Stirrup, chief of defense staff, who is accompanying Brown to Iraq today said.
"We cannot just have a one to one transfer from Iraq to Afghanistan," he said, speaking at Basra airbase. "The net result must be a reduction in our operational tempo because the forces have been overstretched for too long. That's what we will do in 2009."