A 38-year-old British man was sentenced to life in prison for building a roadside bomb that killed a U.S. army sergeant in Iraq, the first U.K. conviction connected to the insurgency in the country.
Anis Sardar’s fingerprints were found on two homemade bombs that were found buried under roads leading west from Baghdad, prosecutors said during the trial. One of the bombs detonated in September 2007, killing U.S. Sgt. 1st Class Randy Johnson.
“His loss is one of the tragedies in in what was going on in Iraq,” at the time, Judge Henry Globe said handing down the sentence today. “It’s a loss for which you are directly responsible.” Sardar must spend a minimum of 38 years in prison, Globe said.
The sentence brings to an end a seven-year investigation that began after U.S. soldiers recovered improvised explosive devices close to Camp Liberty, near Baghdad. FBI forensic experts then handed two devices over to U.K. authorities after Sardar became a suspect.
Unrest in Iraq escalated after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, with sectarian tensions erupting into a full blown civil war in 2006. To stem the violence and defeat al-Qaeda, the U.S. increased the number of troops in the country in 2007, and organized and funded Sunni tribes into a fully fledged fighting force. That year was the deadliest year for U.S. troops, with nearly 900 soldiers killed.
“I’m satisfied that your actions were not wholly focused on the Shiite militia,” Globe said dismissing Sardar’s defense that the bombs were there to protect Sunni villagers. “It was the Americans that were targeted.”
Sardar is a British citizen and could be tried for murder despite the alleged crime taking place in Iraq and the bombs made in Syria, prosecutors said. Sajjad Adnan, who was arrested after the bombings and handed over to the Iraqi authorities, is accused of the same offenses but his whereabouts aren’t known.
“He has tried to put it all behind him, it has come back to haunt him,” Henry Blaxland, Sardar’s lawyer, said in his defense. “He has made no attempt to return to the Middle East.”