Britain marked the second anniversary of the London suicide bombings yesterday, a grim reminder as the nation confronted a new wave of terrorism, and an Iraqi doctor appeared in court over last week's failed attacks in London and Glasgow.
Bilal Abdullah, a 27-year-old doctor born in Britain and raised in Iraq, appeared in a London court amid tight security after he and another man allegedly crashed a gas-laden Jeep Cherokee into the main terminal of Scotland's largest airport.
Accused of conspiring to cause explosions, he is the first to be charged of eight suspects arrested over failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow a week ago. Abdullah, who spoke only to confirm his name and birth date, was ordered to appear at London's Central Criminal Court on July 27.
Two cars packed with gas cylinders and nails were discovered on June 29 in London -- one outside a crowded nightclub, the other near Trafalgar Square. The next day, a Jeep Cherokee smashed into the security barriers at Glasgow airport, Scotland's busiest.
The charge against Abdullah refers to a plot taking place between Jan. 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 and attacking the airport.
`to the bottom'
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said earlier on Friday that investigations stretching from Britain to Australia were "getting to the bottom" of a cell behind the failed car bombings in London and Scotland.
Brown said he had spoken to Australian Prime Minister John Howard about the probe into the suspected al-Qaeda-linked plot, in which eight Middle Eastern and Indian medics have been arrested.
Australian police, already holding one Indian doctor since Monday, extended their probe to at least five others and searched two hospitals.
In a separate case, a court in Manchester sentenced a man described by police as a terrorist "sleeper" to nine years in jail for possessing a trove of al-Qaeda-related computer material.
That followed the conviction of three other men last week for inciting terrorism over the Internet. Verdicts were due shortly in other trials -- part of a slew of cases that have highlighted Britain's appeal as a target for militant Islamists.
two years on
Meanwhile, Brown laid flowers yesterday to mark the second anniversary of the death of 52 people in the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on London's public transport system.
Brown, accompanied by London Mayor Ken Livingstone and his Parisian counterpart Bertrand Delanoe, delivered the wreaths at 8:50am, the time when the transport system was shut down after the attacks.
The ceremony at King's Cross railway station was low-key, reportedly at the wish of the families of those killed and was not accompanied by any national moment of silence or commemoration.
A total of 52 commuters and four British Islamist suicide bombers were killed when bombs went off on three London Underground trains and one bus in quick succession.
The attacks caused the biggest peacetime loss of life in Britain since World War II.