The world at a glance . . . Europe



Doctor convicted in terror attack: A British doctor of Iraqi heritage was sentenced this week to life in prison for his participation in a botched suicide bombing in Scotland last year. Bilal Abdulla was a passenger in a car that was intentionally driven into Glasgow’s main airport terminal. The resulting fire killed the driver, but more deaths were averted when gas cans stored in the car’s trunk failed to ignite. Two bombs planted in London by the pair also failed to detonate. Abdulla said that he had not intended to kill anyone. But in a diary, referring to civilian deaths in Iraq, he had written of coalition troops: “They do not discriminate, so why should we?”


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Bomb in store: An obscure group demanding the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan planted dynamite in a Paris department store this week. The Afghan Revolutionary Front issued a statement that it had placed explosives in Printemps, one of the most popular stores in Paris. “Send the message to your president that he needs to withdraw his troops from our country before the end of February 2009, or else we will act again in your capitalist department stores, and this time with no warning,” the group said. Police removed a package containing five sticks of dynamite from the store. France has contributed 3,000 troops to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Palermo, Italy

Mass Mafia arrests: Italian police arrested 94 suspected Mafia members this week in an attempt to prevent Cosa Nostra from forming a new ruling committee. Since the arrest last year of the Mafia’s previous top boss, Salvatore Lo Piccolo, senior leaders of the criminal group have been trying to establish something like a board of directors to run its affairs. “The arrest of top bosses in the past has weakened Cosa Nostra and made it less dangerous,” said Pietro Grasso, Italy’s head Mafia prosecutor. “That doesn’t mean Mafia clans don’t still control their own territory, but there is no central command.”

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