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article imageIraqi asylum seeker guilty of London Tube bombing

By James PHEBY (AFP)     Mar 16, 2018 in Crime

An 18-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker was on Friday found guilty of attempted murder over the botched bombing of a rush-hour London Underground train that injured 30 people.

Ahmed Hassan constructed his homemade bomb "with the aim of indiscriminately killing as many people as possible," said Sue Hemming from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the jury at London's Old Bailey delivered their verdict.

Hassan left the improvised bucket bomb filled with screwdrivers, knives, nuts, bolts and "Mother of Satan" TATP explosives in a carriage carrying 93 passengers on September 15, last year.

It partially exploded at Parsons Green tube station in west London, one stop after he had alighted.

Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command, called Hassan "an intelligent and articulate individual that is devious and cunning in equal measures.

"He kept secret what he was planning and plotting. We describe him as a lone actor."

Commuter Stephen Nash earlier told jurors that he was on his way to work when he experienced a "blinding flash" before being "engulfed in flames".

"I was thrown to the ground," he said. "The flames were overwhelming... It was intense heat, I thought I had lost my ears, I thought my head was on fire."

Fellow witness Aimee Colville said she heard a "loud bang" and "cracking" before "a wall of glass came across".

"That morning I had curled my hair and I had put hairspray in my hair so when the flames came over me my hair immediately caught fire," she added.

- Fugitive fantasy -

Hassan told jurors that he didn't intend to hurt people, and that he was "bored and stressed" and wanted to start a fire.

"It became kind of a fantasy in my head. I was thinking about it," he said.

"I was watching documentaries as well, about fugitives and just the idea of being a fugitive got into my head."

Prosecutors showed the jury Hassan's online purchase history, which included chemicals, along with CCTV footage from the day before the attack showing him buying shrapnel items.

Hassan arrived in Britain in October 2015. He told authorities he was in fear of the Islamic State group which he said had taken him by force in Iraq and trained him "how to kill".

He was given a home by foster parents Penny and Ron Jones, and studied media and photography at Brooklands College in Weybridge, south of London.

His college mentor contacted the anti-terror programme Prevent after Hassan said it was his "duty to hate Britain".

He assembled the bomb while his elderly foster parents were on holiday, using money from a school prize to buy the chemicals.

The partially exploded bomb sent a fireball down the carriage, which left passengers with burns, while others were injured in the resulting stampede.

Hassan then destroyed his phone and fled to the port town of Dover, where police picked him up with more than £2,000 ($2,794, 2,266 euros) in cash.

Following the verdict, Hassan was remanded in custody with a sentencing date to be set next week.

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