London cabbie jailed for killing U.S. soldier in Iraq

LONDON -- Justice finally came this week for an American soldier killed eight years ago in Iraq. A former London taxi driver was sentenced to life in prison Friday morning for making the bomb that killed Sgt. Randy Johnson.

As CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports, it was Anis Abid Sardar himself who left crucial evidence behind in Iraq that would eventually lead to his London trial eight years later.

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

Sgt. Randy Johnson
Sgt. Randy Johnson
CBS

One of them killed 34-year-old Johnson, exploding right under his armored vehicle in 2007.

After a lengthy police investigation -- bolstered by American cooperation and a dash of luck -- a London jury convicted Sardar of murder on Thursday. On Friday, the court sentenced him to two life sentences, one for killing Johnson, and another for conspiracy to commit murder -- for other bombs which failed to explode in the same region.

"Sardar had reinvented himself carefully since returning as a black cab driver," said London Metropolitan Police Counterterrorism Commander Richard Walton. "The reality is he's a bombmaker, he's a terrorist and he's been convicted of murder this afternoon."

There was justice, too, for Specialist Joe Bacani, who was wounded trying to recover a bomb Sardar helped build. He told CBS News he thought he was going to die.

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

British police flagged Sardar when he came home from Iraq in 2007, but not in connection with the Iraq bombs. In 2012 they raided his home and found a bomb-making manual, but that wasn't enough to charge him.

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

The evidence for that came a year later. IEDs, both 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, they struck gold; Sardar's prints were lifted from a piece of tape on two bombs that had been planted on the roads west of Baghdad. It was exactly what London police needed for to arrest him.

Sardar, now 38 years old, had denied all the charges against him. He will now serve a minimum of 38 years of his life sentences.