LONDON — Bilal Abdulla, one of the two doctors arrested after a blazing Jeep Cherokee rammed into the Glasgow Airport terminal on Saturday, is a deeply religious Iraqi who was angry that his prominent Sunni family “lost everything” following the 2003 invasion led by the United States and Britain, according to a close family member.
“He was hurt by the destruction of his family’s property in Iraq,” the relative said during a 2 1/2 -hour interview in Cambridge, England. “I think he wanted to be a martyr. He wanted to send out a message to withdraw troops from Iraq. He wanted to cause chaos and fear; he didn’t want to kill people. He fears God, and all he wanted to do was die.”
The relative provided a detailed account of one of eight suspects — all of them doctors or other medical professionals — in custody in connection with the Glasgow attack and a related incident Friday in which two Mercedes sedans packed with propane cylinders and nails were left on crowded London streets but failed to detonate. The relative, who said he had seen Abdulla frequently, spoke on condition of anonymity.
Abdulla has not been charged. But he has emerged as one of the central figures in the alleged plot since police wrestled him to the ground next to the burning Jeep at the airport. A news photo of Abdulla, wearing a singed white T-shirt, being led away by police has become one of the most familiar images of an episode that has startled Britons, in particular because the suspects are all in the medical field.