London: A London taxi driver who made bombs targeting coalition troops in Iraq, one of which killed a US soldier, has been jailed for life with a minimum of 38 years after being convicted of murder.
Anis Sardar, 38, built an improvised explosive device (IED) which killed Sergeant First Class Randy Johnson of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment when it exploded under his armoured vehicle outside Baghdad on September 27, 2007.
Sardar was arrested in London in September 2014 after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation found his fingerprints on two bombs which were planted in the area at the time, although not the one which killed Johnson.
Sentencing him at London's Woolwich Crown Court yesterday, the day after a jury found him guilty of murder, Judge Henry Globe told Sardar that the soldier's death "was a loss for which you are directly responsible".
The judge rejected Sardar's defence that he had only been involved once in making a bomb, to protect the Sunni community from Shiite militias.
"I am satisfied that at the material time of the offences you had a mindset that made Americans every bit the enemy as Shiite militias. Both were in your contemplation at all times," he said.
Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said it had been a "landmark" case, showing that "international borders are no barrier to terrorists in the UK being brought to justice".
Sardar's fingerprints were not on the bomb that killed Johnson but they were found on a range of other, similar devices planted in the surrounding area, along with those of Sajjad Adnan, whose prints were on the fatal device. Adnan was previously in custody in Iraq but his current location is unknown.
Inquiries by British police subsequently revealed that Sardar had spent a decade in Syria, returning to Britain less than two months after Johnson died.
He claimed he was in Syria simply to learn Arabic, but detectives believe he met up with Adnan and other bombmakers to conspire and make and deploy IEDs in Iraq.
He was later found to have files on his computer containing instructions on how to make bombs.
A brief message was read out to the court on behalf of Johnson's widow, Claudia, who said: "Thank you so much, it's a big relief to know that justice has been served.
"However, it does not change much for us. Randy will be greatly missed."