Cab driver 'bomb maker' identified by fingerprints on roadside IEDs - court
A British cab driver behind a “deadly” terror campaign against US troops in Iraq was caught after seven years of painstaking work to identify his fingerprints on roadside bombs, a court heard.
Anis Abid Sardar is accused of being part of an insurgency cell who targeted US forces in 2007 with a bombing campaign that left one US soldier dead.
In an “unusual trial”, Sardar was only arrested in London last year after the US authorities “painstakingly” matched his fingerprints to those found on devices recovered in the years after the Iraq war, Woolwich Crown Court heard. It is believed to be the first trial of its kind to be heard in the UK.
Sardar, 38, of Wembley, north west London, was involved in offences of the “most serious imaginable”, prosecutor Max Hill QC said.
He was “directly involved in making bombs for use in Iraq during 2007, several years after the 2003 war", Woolwich Crown Court heard.
Sardar is accused of working with a second man, Sajjad Adnan, to construct improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to bury on roads leading out of Baghdad.
One of the bombs tore into a US military vehicle in September 2007, killing Sergeant First Class Randy Johnson.
Although only Adnan’s fingerprints were found on the remains of that device, it was part of a sequence of bombs in the same area in a joint effort with Sardar and others, Mr Hill said.
Sardar’s fingerprints were found on two other devices recovered from the area around that time.
“These two men were acting together and or with others to construct and or deploy the bombs,” Mr Hill said. “No doubt they worked with others at various stages, but the scientific evidence shows that these two men were both directly involved in what was going on.”
He added: “That is why it is unnecessary for Mr Sardar to have left his own fingermark on the bomb which killed Sergeant Johnson.”
He said that Sardar was a “guilty participant in this deadly trade, making bombs so large that they could and did cause significant damage to heavily-armoured US military vehicles, killing the unfortunate Sergeant Johnson”.
Adnan was arrested after the bombings and handed over to the Iraqi authorities, but his whereabouts are now unknown, Mr Hill said.
The court heard that Sardar was allegedly based in Syria around that time studying Arabic, but documents later found at his London home included an Arabic language bomb-making manual.
Mr Hill said: “The Crown say therefore that whilst it may be true that he was studying languages, he was also without doubt involved in bomb-making, whether in Syria or in neighbouring Iraq.”
Sardar denies three charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.
The jury was told the trial could take place in the UK because Sardar was a British citizen who lives and works here, even though the events took place “far away in Iraq”. The trial continues.
Mr Hill said the events took place four years after the Iraq war of 2003 and the trial was not about the “rights or wrongs” of that conflict.
Nor has it anything to do with the “ongoing strife” in Syria, he said. Four bombs were planted on a road that ran from Baghdad to Abu Ghraib, where there was a prison during the war.
“Bomb 3” was the one that killed Sgt Johnson but the other three were recovered intact. Two of them contained 60lbs of explosives.
The fatal bomb detonated as a US Stryker vehicle, in a convoy of four vehicles, passed over it, blowing a hole in the bottom of it.
Sgt Johnson took the full force of the blast and died from his wounds shortly afterwards. Others were severely injured.
The American soldier was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.
The court heard how the four bombs bore similarities ranging from the same pressure plate detonation design, the same wooden block, rubber tubing, tape, battery and timers.
Adnan’s fingerprints were found on all four devices. Sarder’s fingerprints were discovered on the adhesive side of tape used to wrap elements together in bombs two and four.
They were matched after a “painstaking process” over seven years including analysis by the Americans both in Iraq and back in the US and further testing by UK experts.
It resulted in the arrest of Sardar in September last year in London. He had returned to the UK in November 2007, less than a month after Sgt Johnson was killed.
Police found a computer disk contained a 26-page bomb making document entitled: “A special course in manufacturing explosives – for the fighting sect protesting the right until God’s will is implemented”.
The document was in Arabic but Sardar was “highly proficient in Arabic”, Mr Hill said. “The recipes or instructions provided within this manual are viable and could, we say, be followed to produce quantities of explosive material,” Mr Hill said.
Mr Hill told the jury: “The Crown say that the bombs you are considering were laid under the road west of Baghdad deliberately, with murderous intent, and with planning and precision. Those who laid the bombs needed to know exactly what they were doing.”
In police interview, Sardar denied ever being involved in the preparation of explosives or having ever been to Iraq.
“Whoever made the bombs we are considering did so with murderous intent. There 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 ability to kill. By the finding of his fingerprints you can be sure that Mr Sardar was one of those who acted with that knowledge and intent.”
The area where the bombs were discovered was close to the US Camp Liberty and intended to “cause damage injury and the death of US Army soldiers”.