LONDON (Reuters) - Two men who tried to carry out car bombings in central London last year escaped the scene in rickshaws, Woolwich Crown Court heard on Friday.
Bilal Abdulla, 29, and Kafeel Ahmed, 28, took the pedal-powered cabs after they had left two Mercedes cars packed with gas canisters, fuel containers and nails outside a club and at a bus stop nearby.
CCTV caught Ahmed dumping an umbrella he was carrying in an apparent attempt to shield his face from cameras, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said.
He then took a rickshaw from Piccadilly Circus while Abdulla was also seen using the same method to get away, the court heard. The two men then met up in Edgware Road shortly after 2 a.m., 30 minutes after the attempted bombings.
Laidlaw said the first car bomb was discovered by staff at the Tiger Tiger nightclub, where there were 556 revellers inside, after paramedics were called to treat a customer.
A doorman and the club’s general manager then noticed gas vapour and smelt liquid petroleum gas.
A fire officer called to the scene pulled one of the large gas canisters from the car and realised there was another inside with wires and mobile phones attached.
“At that point the potential seriousness of the situation emerged and the Bomb Squad were called to the scene,” Laidlaw said.
Meanwhile the second car was given a parking ticket and then towed away to a nearby pound. Police made it safe after realising it too had been rigged with bombs.
The court heard there had been repeated attempts to set off the bombs remotely using the mobile phone detonators, and although one of the initiators had undergone a slight explosion, neither main device had exploded.
This was because the fuel to air ratio in the cars had probably exceeded ignitable limits, Laidlaw said.
On Thursday, the court was told Abdulla and co-defendant Mohammed Asha, 28, were part of a small Islamist cell that had planned a series of car bomb attacks in revenge for Britain’s treatment of Muslims in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
The day after the London bombings failed on June 28, Abdulla and Ahmed drove to Scotland and tried to drive a Jeep Cherokee, packed with fuel containers and gas canisters, into the international terminal at Glasgow Airport.
The Jeep became trapped in the terminal doors and Ahmed later died from burns he suffered as he tried to set the car alight.
Abdulla, an Iraqi, and Jordanian national Asha, who are both doctors, deny conspiring to murder and to cause explosions likely to endanger life. The trial continues.
Reporting by Michael Holden