London cab driver accused of helping make bomb that killed US sergeant in Iraq

  • Anis Abid Sadar is accused of murdering Sgt Randy Johnson in Iraq
  • Sadar from Wembley is accused of making the bomb which killed Johnson
  • The 38-year-old mini cab driver is on trial in Woolwich Crown Court 
  • Sadar has denied charges of murder and conspiracy to cause explosions

Sergeant Randy Johnson, pictured, was killed while on patrol in Baghdad in 2007 when he was killed by an improvised explosive device

Sergeant Randy Johnson, pictured, was killed while on patrol in Baghdad in 2007 when he was killed by an improvised explosive device

A minicab driver who has been living in North London for the last eight years was 'directly involved' in making a bomb which killed a US sergeant on patrol in Iraq in 2007, a court has heard.

Anis Abid Sardar, 38, from Wembley, is accused of the murder of Sgt First Class Randy Johnson, who was killed while on duty in Iraq in September 2007.

Sardar was said to be 'directly involved in making bombs for use in Iraq during 2007' but was probably based across the border in Damascus in Syria.

When his home in North London was searched by police before his arrest last September, they found books suggesting an 'advanced understanding of Arabic' as well as an Arabic language bomb-making manual.

Sardar claims he was in Syria to learn Arabic, but Max Hill QC, prosecuting, said: 'He was also, without doubt, involved in bomb-making, whether in Syria or in neighbouring Iraq.'

Mr Hill said it was an 'unusual trial' because almost all of the evidence was from Iraq but he said the offences were the 'most serious imaginable' and the defendant, a British citizen, lives and works in London.

'For that reason it is lawful to place him on trial in London, even though the activities you will hear about took place far away in Iraq,' he added.

The prosecutor urged the jury at Woolwich Crown Court to put aside thoughts that the trial was about the Iraq War or the current conflict in Syria: 'This trial, let us be clear, has nothing to do with the rights or wrongs of the war, though it is a historical fact which you may well remember from media coverage at the time and since.

'More recently, of course, we all know something of the ongoing strife concerning the current regime in Syria. Again this trial has nothing to do with that strife which commenced long after the events with which we are concerned.'

Outlining the case, Mr Hill said a number of homemade bombs were found buried under the roads leading west from Baghdad towards the prison of Abu Ghraib in Iraq during the course of several months in 2007.

'One of those bombs detonated fully as a US military vehicle passed along the road, killing Sergeant Johnson,' he added.

'Several other bombs were recovered, in at least once instance after a firefight on which further US military personnel were injured.'

Despite the alleged offence taking place in Iraq, Anis Abid Sardar, from Wembley in London is on trial for murder, conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions in Woolwich Crown Court, pictured 

Of those bombs, two had Sardar's fingerprints on them and two others had the fingerprints of another man called Sajjad Adnan who was said to be acting with him to construct or deploy the bombs.

'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,' Mr Hill said.

The bomb that killed Sergeant Johnson was part of a sequence involving bombs concealed geographically quote close together, all as part of 'joint effort' by Sardar, Adnan and others, the court heard. It bore a fingerprint left by Adnan.

Adnan, who is not a British citizen, was arrested in 2007 and handed over into the custody of the Iraqi authorities.

'His current whereabouts are unknown,' Mr Hill said. 'His absence from this trial does not matter. It is not something that should be of concern to you and makes no difference to your task, which is to consider the scientific evidence linking both men to the bombs in order to reach the sure conclusion that the man on trial by you, Mr 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.'

Mr Hill continued: ''That bomb was part of a sequence, involving bombs concealed geographically quite close together, all as part of a joint effort by the defendant Mr Sardar, together with Adnan and others. That is why it is unnecessary for Mr Sardar to have left his own finger mark on the bomb which killed Sergeant Johnson.' 

Sardar denies charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.

The jury at Woolwich Crown Court were shown the blood-spattered interior of the Stryker amoured vehicle which was commanded by Sgt Johnson. 

Sgt Johnson, the court heard, was standing towards the front of the vehicle, directly above the spot where the bomb exploded on September 27, 2007. 

The blast blew a hole in the floor of the heavily amoured vehicle. 

Sgt Johnson was commander of a Stryker armoured vehicle, similar to this one, when he  was attacked

Sgt Johnson was commander of a Stryker armoured vehicle, similar to this one, when he  was attacked

The vehicle was part of a convoy of four vehicles from the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment whose duty was to provide security for other patrols and military moving around the area.

Mr Hill told the jury: 'As the vehicle went through a slight dip in the road it hit the concealed bomb which detonated, blowing a hole in the bottom of the vehicle right underneath the spot where Sgt Johnson was standing.'

The other soldiers in the Stryker vehicle were injured but Sgt Johnson took the full force of the blast. Immediate attention was given by a medic known as ‘Doc’ and a medevac helicopter called in.

'Everything that could be done was done, his injuries however were too severe and he was pronounced dead in the helicopter,' Mr Hill said. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart medal.

The vehicle had remained largely intact apart from one wheel which was blown off. 'A smaller vehicle might have been blown apart,' Mr Hill said.

Despite the explosion, the homemade pressure plates, all that was left of the device, were 'recovered from the sands of Iraq' and sent for analysis.

The court room was shown a mock-up of the devices with a camera flash bulb to represent the explosion.

From the witness box, a police officer showed two metal bars separated by wooden blocks at either end, insulated with rubber hosing and sealed with brown packing tape. When the bars were pressed together, the circuit was completed and the flash bulb went off.

The bombs each contained around 60lbs of homemade explosives. A similar bomb was found by an officer with a group called Task Force Iron Claw, using a specially armoured vehicle, with a digger claw used for scraping away earth over concealed bombs on October 14.

Team Leader Smith, who examined the bomb, found it had no blast cap, meaning it had apparently detonated but failed to set off the main charge because the detonator cord was frayed at the end.

In order to make it safe, the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team blew up the main charge causing a massive explosion that sent a cloud 150ft into the air.

The first bomb allegedly made by Sardar had already been recovered intact during the late afternoon of March 19 2007 by Bruce Benson, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team leader with the US 707th EOD.

Benson was responsible for a team of bomb disposal officers based at Camp Liberty to the West of Baghdad and dealt with 325 bombs during his deployment in 2007.

The bomb was described as an 'anti-personnel device' left under the road containing 16-19 pounds of high explosives and using a homemade pressure plate to set it off.

It was recovered and taken to the 'combined explosives exploitation cell' (CEXC) at the 'forward operating base' Camp Liberty where it was x-rayed and examined.

The second bomb was recovered intact around 1pm the following day after a firefight during which two US servicemen from 2/5 Cavalry Regiment were injured.

The soldiers came under small arms fire from more both sides of the road. One, Joseph Bacani, received a gunshot wound to the knee and the other, Jesus Bustamente, a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

'The location of the device was in order to injure or take out the American soldiers who discovered it,' Mr Hill said.

'Despite their injuries, the site was secured so that Team Leader Benson could be escorted in, only to find bomb control wires running down the centre of the road and that the wires were connected to what he called a pressure switch just one foot away from his own boot.'

The bomb was successfully secured and found to contain 60 pounds of explosive hidden in to containers approximately 3ft tall, with the cylinders buried side by side and about 10 inches deep.

The bomb components were sent back from Camp Liberty to be forensically examined at an FBI facility in the US and images showed they were constructed from household items and held together with sticky tape.

'These were homemade explosives, not off-the-shelf devices, made with deadly intent by, among others, Mr Sardar,' the prosecutor said.

He said the FBI had taken pieces of tape from the devices and put it on clear plastic so they could be examined with 'real and minute care.'The four bombs all used the same three different colours of tape - brown, black and cream – on each device.

Green garden hose had been used to insulate the devices and microscopic examination of the striation marks showed that the same knife had been used to cut it from the same length of hosing in the first two bombs.

'You can picture somebody snipping the rubber hose and making the pressure plates one after the other,' Mr Hill said.

A timer from a washing machine had been used as one of the 'ordinary components' of the bombs, Mr Hill said.

Sardar had left the fingerprint from his right forefinger and right thumb on the tape used in the second bomb and Mr Hill said: 'It is the Crown’s case this is someone who is the constructor, the maker of these devices and there is no excuse for how the fingerprint came to be on these bombs.

'The four bombs were all subjected to detailed analysis to determine their exact construction and uncover any scientific links to those who built or handled the bombs. All were found to have a similar construction,' Mr Hill said.

'All were activated by pressure plates which meant that the bomb would go off if it was subjected to sufficient pressure from above to make the necessary contact for detonation, usually heavy vehicles such as the Strykers used by the US Army.'

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