American soldier killed in Iraq finally gets justice

LONDON -- Justice finally came Thursday for an American soldier killed in Iraq eight years ago, as a London cabdriver was convicted of murder.

IEDs -- homemade bombs -- turned Iraq's roads into lethal minefields for U.S. soldiers.

sgt-randy-johnson.jpg
Sgt. Randy Johnson.
CBS News

One of them killed 34-year-old Sgt. Randy Johnson when it went off under his armored vehicle in 2007.

Fast forward eight long years. Careful police work, forensic science and a little bit of luck finally paid off with a jury finding 38-year-old Anis Abid Sardar guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder.

It's also justice for Sgt. Joe Bacano, who was wounded trying to recover a bomb Sardar helped to build. He told CBS News he thought he was going to die.

"And I could feel, like, the sun beating on me and my blood, my own blood, feeling hotter than that sun," Bacano said. "And I could feel like I was losing a lot of blood."

British police flagged Sardar when he came home from the war in Iraq in 2007, but not in connection with these incidents.

A courtroom sketch of Anis Abid Sardar, who was found guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder by a British court for building bombs used in Iraq, including one that killed a U.S. Army solider in 2007.
CBS News

In 2012, they even raided his home and found a bomb-making manual -- but it wasn't enough to charge him. The evidence for that came a year later.

IEDs, intact and in pieces, had been collected in Iraq and shipped halfway across the world to the FBI's terrorism explosives lab in Virginia.

In 2014, a match: Sardar's fingerprints were lifted from a piece of tape on two bombs that had been planted on the roads west of Baghdad.

British police had what they needed to go to court.

"Sardar had reinvented himself carefully in London since returning as a black cab driver," said Richard Walton, who leads the counter-terrorism unit of London's Metropolitan Police. "The reality is, he's a bombmaker, he's a terrorist and he's been convicted of murder this afternoon."

Sardar is expected to be back in court Friday morning for sentencing. He's facing a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."