2007 Glasgow International Airport attack: Wikis

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2007 Glasgow International Airport attack
Date 30 June 2007
Target Glasgow International Airport
Attack type car bomb
Death(s) 1 (Kafeel Ahmed)
Injured 5[1][2]
Perpetrator(s) 2,
Bilal Abdullah
Kafeel Ahmed

The 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack occurred on Saturday 30 June 2007, at 15:11 BST, when a dark green Jeep Cherokee loaded with propane canisters was driven into the glass doors of the Glasgow International Airport terminal and set ablaze.[3] It was the first terrorist attack to take place in Scotland since the Lockerbie bombing in 1988,[4] and the first terrorist attack ever to target Scotland. The attack occurred three days after the appointment of Glasgow-born Scottish MP Gordon Brown as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but Downing Street dismissed suggestions of a connection,[5] although a close link was quickly established to the foiled attack on London the previous day.

Security bollards outside the entrance stopped the car from entering the terminal, although the doors were damaged. The car's driver was severely burnt in the ensuing fire and five members of the public were also injured, none seriously. Some injuries were sustained by those assisting the police in detaining the occupants.

Both of the car occupants were apprehended at the scene, and all those injured were taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in nearby Paisley.[1][2][6][7] Within three days, Scotland Yard had confirmed that eight people had been taken into custody in connection with this incident and that in London.[1][8][9][10]

Police identified the two men as Bilal Abdullah, a British-born, Muslim doctor of Iraqi descent working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital,[11][12] and Kafeel Ahmed, also known as Khalid Ahmed, the driver, who was treated for severe burns at the same hospital.[13] The newspaper, The Australian, alleges that a suicide note indicated that the two had intended to die in the attack.[14] Ahmed did eventually die of his injuries, on 2 August.[15] Bilal Abdullah was later found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

Contents

Events

A dark green Jeep Cherokee, registration number L808 RDT,[16] travelling at a speed estimated by a witness as about 30 mph[17] (48 km/h), struck security bollards at the main entrance to Glasgow International Airport.[2] The vehicle was reported to have several petrol containers and propane gas canisters on-board. One eyewitness said flames issued from beneath the car when it hit the building, while another eyewitness said it appeared the driver was trying to drive through the terminal doors. According to reports, the car was occupied by two "Asian-looking" men – a convention used in the UK to refer to individuals of South Asian ethnicity.[18] Police indicated the vehicle burst into flames when it was driven at the terminal.[19] An eyewitness noted that a man got out of the car and began to fight with police.[20] Another eyewitness said that the man was throwing punches and repeatedly shouting "Allah".[21][22][23] The man was arrested and has since been named as Bilal Abdulla, a UK-born doctor of Iraqi descent who was working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Another man exited the car and ran into the terminal building while he was on fire and began writhing on the ground, before being kicked by a member of the public, John Smeaton,[24] who was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his heroism.

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Sky News

Sky News reported that petrol was spread from containers by the occupants when they got out of the car. During the subsequent investigation propane gas canisters were removed from the car. A Strathclyde Police spokesman confirmed the two men in the car were arrested,[25] one of them badly burned. A witness stated that a passenger of the vehicle was aflame from head to toe, as he struggled with police, with some witnesses reported to have shouted "just let him burn".[26] The man was initially taken to Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley before being transferred to the intensive care unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary due to it having a specialist burns unit, where he died on 2 August.[27] The Jeep was removed early on the morning of Sunday 1 July before flights resumed and the airport was partially opened.[7]

Hospitals

Royal Alexandra Hospital's accident and emergency department was evacuated and then closed when a suspected explosive device on the bomber's body was found.[19] Affected patients were taken to the Southern General Hospital and the Western Infirmary. It later emerged the device was not explosive.[28] The second man, Dr Bilal Abdulla, was initially held at nearby Govan police station, one of the UK's high security police stations with the capability to hold terrorist suspects.[29] He was later transferred to Paddington Green Police Station in London, along with two unnamed suspects, after the Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini gave her consent to a combined prosecution in England under English law.[30]

In the aftermath of the attack the airport was evacuated and all flights suspended. Evacuated holiday-goers, including some who were left in aircraft for up to ten hours after the event, were accommodated overnight in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.[31][32] BAA indicated the airport main terminal re-opened for an incoming flight from Ibiza on 1 July 2007 at 07:37, and began handling departures from approximately 09:00.[33]

People involved

The two men involved in the attacks were believed to reside at Neuk Crescent in Houston, Renfrewshire (approximately three miles from the airport), and are believed to have lived there for nearly 12 months.[34] Furthermore, the two men involved in the airport attack are believed to be the same men who had parked two car bombs in London on Friday, 29 June.[35]

Number plate

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology identified the vehicle of two suspects connected with the Glasgow Airport attack on the M6 Motorway between junction 18 & 17 near Holmes Chapel, Cheshire. Reports suggest that up to 18 unmarked police cars performed a rolling roadblock. Three unmarked police cars overtook the suspects' vehicle, and took up a position on the carriageway that prevented the suspects from overtaking, while up to 15 other unmarked cars approached the suspects' car from the rear, forming a buffer of police vehicles between the suspects' car and other motorway users. The police brought the suspects to a slow halt and they were arrested.[1] The BBC stated that the medical doctor arrested was Dr. Mohammed Asha.[36]

London car bombs

The police say they believe the attack is linked to the two bombs discovered and defused in London 36 hours before.[1][21][28][37]

1 July

On the afternoon of 1 July, police carried out a controlled explosion on a car in the car park of the Royal Alexandra Hospital, where one suspect was being treated. The hospital was cordoned off for a time, and ambulances were redirected to other local hospitals. It is not clear if there was another device attached to the second car.[38]

Arrests

Police made two further arrests in Paisley in the early hours of 2 July in connection with the attack, bringing the total number of arrests to seven.[39] At least two suspects are thought to be locum physicians reportedly working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and at a Staffordshire hospital. These hospitals were the subject of police searches.[40]

2 July

On 2 July 2007, an eighth person was detained in Australia in connection with both the Glasgow and London incidents.[41] Australian news reports indicated that two people in Queensland were detained for questioning. Both were doctors; one, Mohammed Asif Ali, was released after questioning with no charges being brought.[42] The other, Mohamed Haneef, 27, graduated from the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in India in 2002 and entered Australia due to the shortage of doctors in regional hospitals.[43] He was working as a registrar at a Gold Coast hospital and was detained at Brisbane Airport while trying to board a one-way flight to India via Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.[42][44][45] His family claimed that Haneef's link to the alleged attackers was tenuous, he was not involved in the plot, and that he was returning to India to see his wife and ten-day-old daughter.[46] India's Deputy High Commissioner to Australia Vinod Kumar was quoted as saying that Haneef had been granted consular access in Australia. On 27 July 2007, all charges against Dr Haneef were dropped by Magistrate Wendy Cull in the Brisbane Magistrates Court. Prosecutor A.J. McSporran said that there would be "no reasonable prospect of a conviction of Dr Haneef being secured." He told the court that prosecutors had made two mistakes at a bail hearing on 14 July.

SIM card

One allegation was that Dr Haneef's SIM card had been found in the burning jeep at Glasgow Airport when, in fact, it had been found in the possession of the brother of a suspect arrested in Liverpool. The second error was that Dr Haneef had once lived with some of the UK bombing suspects, when in fact he had not. The Australian Labor Party has called for an external review of the handling of the Dr Haneef case by the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Arrests

  1. Dr. Bilal Abdullah, 27, born in the UK, and moved to Iraq as a child.[47] Alleged attacker, arrested immediately at Glasgow International Airport. Convicted at of conspiracy to murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment
  2. Dr. Kafeel Ahmed, aka Khalid Ahmed,[48] born in India. Taken to hospital after the attack and treated for burns over 90% of his body surface.[49] Died from his injuries, 2 August 2007.[15]
  3. Dr. Mohammed Asha, 26, from Jordan.[47] Arrested on the M6 motorway.[49] Later found not guilty of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions, currently fighting deportation.[50]
  4. Marwah Dana Asha, 27, from Jordan. Wife of Mohammed Asha and arrested with him on the M6 motorway.[49] Was later released without charge.[51]
  5. Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, 26, born in India. Arrested in Liverpool. A doctor who works at Halton Hospital in Cheshire. Brother of Kafeel Ahmed.[49]
  6. Dr. Mohamed Haneef, 27, from India.[50][52] Detained at Brisbane Airport, Australia[49] and later charged with recklessly supporting a terrorist organisation, charges which have now been dropped. Currently appealing cancellation of his work visa by the Australian government. Second cousin of Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed.
  7. Unnamed 28 year old Saudi man, arrested in Houston, Renfrewshire. Reported to be a medical student working at Royal Alexandra Hospital.[49] Released without charge.[53]
  8. Unnamed 25 year old Saudi man, arrested in Houston along with unnamed 28 year old. Also reported to be a medical student at the RAH.[49] Released without charge.[53]

Medical links

The BBC reported that eight people were being questioned, most of whom had worked for the NHS and five of whom were doctors.[54]

Reactions

United Kingdom

Prime Minister Gordon Brown was kept briefed on developments by officials. He chaired a meeting of COBRA, the government's emergency committee, on the evening of the Glasgow incident to deal with both it and the two car bombs shortly preceding it. He also spoke to the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond regarding the incident.[55] Brown further addressed the issues by telling the media, "I know that the British people will stand together".[1][2] He thanked emergency services and urged the public to remain vigilant.

Scottish Government

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, along with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill and the Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini participated in the COBRA meeting chaired by Gordon Brown. Salmond stated that "The incident at Glasgow Airport today as well as recent events in London show that we face threats both north and south of the border – and both the Scottish and UK governments are united in our determination to stand up to that threat to protect our communities".[56]

Kenny MacAskill, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, insisted that the recent terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport was not committed by 'home-grown' terrorists.[57]

Home Office

At 20:15, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack and that the United Kingdom terrorism threat level had been elevated from "Severe" to "Critical", meaning "further attacks are expected imminently".[1][2][28][37][58]

National TV channel ITV changed its schedule on the night of Monday 2 July following the attack: it was to show the film Die Hard 2 (which is about terrorists attacking an airport) as the Monday evening film, but replaced it with Cliffhanger.

On 4 July, the national status was lowered from "Critical" back to "Severe".

International

  • United States Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff stated that "We have been in close contact with our counterparts in the U.K. regarding today’s incident at the Glasgow airport and yesterday’s car bomb discoveries in London. Our law enforcement and intelligence officials are closely monitoring the ongoing investigations. The senior leadership of the U.S. government has been meeting on these issues both yesterday and today. DHS and the FBI have provided updates and protective measures guidance to our state and local homeland security and law enforcement partners".

Security responses

According to the Metropolitan Police extra officers were deployed at landmarks, airports, railway stations and bus terminals across the country on Sunday with orders to increase the use of stop and search powers, while armed police were patrolling major rail stations. They also said that there would be at least 450 officers monitoring a Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, 1 July in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.[2]

In response to both the attack on Glasgow Airport and the attempted attacks on London, security around the then on-going Wimbledon tennis championships in south-west London was increased, with the use of concrete car blockers.[59] Security measures were also increased at the T In The Park music festival in Balado, Kinross, which took place the weekend after the attack on Glasgow Airport.[60]

Aftermath

At approximately 08:00 on 1 July 2007, the police stated that a phased reopening would begin, allowing the airport to return to normal. The first flight after the incident was due to leave at approximately 09:00. Strathclyde Police searched a number of houses in nearby Houston.[61] At 15:10 (23 hours 59 minutes after the attack), the main terminal building (Terminal 1) re-opened. The inner lanes immediately in front of the terminal building remain off limits to all vehicles, and only authorised public transport vehicles are being allowed to use the outer lanes.

Police in Liverpool arrested one man in connection with the events in Glasgow and London, and two people were arrested by police on the M6 near Sandbach in Cheshire. Two Liverpool addresses were searched, in the Mossley Hill and Toxteth areas.[62]

Mohammad Sarwar, MP for the nearby constituency of Glasgow Central, reported that threats had been made against the Muslim community in Scotland following the incident.[63]

Other airports

Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle's airports all took measures to prevent similar action by blocking off roads approaching and in front of the terminal buildings, with the terminals and blockades policed by their respective local police forces.

London Luton Airport moved the taxi ranks away from the main terminal building. Blackpool International Airport was shut down temporarily.[29] Glasgow Prestwick, the city's second airport, was kept open with armed police on site. London Heathrow Airport advised people not to bring private cars near the passenger terminals for security reasons.

On the evening of 30 June, Liverpool John Lennon Airport was closed for eight hours while a vehicle was removed and taken away for forensic testing, reopening at about 04:40 on Sunday morning.[64]

Pearson International Airport, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada increased security measures in response to the attack.[65]

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said that airport security in the United States would be tightened,[58][66] but that the airport terror alert level would remain at its current status, "Orange" (also called "High"), where it has been since the autumn of 2006.[58][67] An additional issued statement from the Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff stated, "...at this point, I have seen no specific, credible information suggesting that this latest incident is connected to a threat to the [United States]."[58]

An article on the website of ABC News alleged that United States law enforcement officials were informed two weeks prior to the Glasgow incident of possible attacks on "airport infrastructure or aircraft" in Scotland and the Czech Republic, leading to the placement of Federal Air Marshals on flights into and out of Glasgow and Prague.[68]

On 1 July, the American Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York was evacuated due to a suspicious package left on the kerb.[69]

Appeals for information

On 1 July the police asked to hear from anyone with information about the dark green Jeep Cherokee, registration number L808 RDT, and also asked for any amateur footage or photos taken of the vehicle on fire.[16]

Public reaction

This attack, and the earlier attempt in London, were both notable as high-profile, yet substantially unsuccessful.[70] The public reaction – particularly in the blogosphere – was amusement as much as fear.[71][72] The humour mainly derived from the perceived ineptitude of the attackers, and also their choice of Glasgow as a target, a city whose citizens are considered by the rest of the United Kingdom to be amongst the toughest, and the last with whom one would pick a fight. Glaswegian comedian Frankie Boyle quipped "I just love the naivety of someone trying to bring religious war to Glasgow," referencing the city's long tradition of tension between Catholics and Protestants.

The baggage handler John Smeaton became a minor celebrity following his apparent actions in curbing the attack and the news interviews he gave, and was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

Trial

The trial of Bilal Abdullah, arrested at the scene of the attack concluded in December 2008. During the trial more details emerged of the connection between the Glasgow attacks and the attempted car-bombing of London's West End just a few days earlier. Abdullah and Kafeel Ahmed were linked to both attacks.[73] E-mail and mobile phone conversations indicated the men first contacted each other in February 2007. Receipts and CCTV images discovered by police showed Kafeel Ahmed bought components for an improvised bomb, including nails, from hardware store B&Q. The pair were also believed to have carried out reconnaissance in London. On 28 June 2007 Ahmed and Abdulla left Scotland in the two second-hand Mercedes vehicles and were recorded on CCTV driving to London and parking both vehicles in locations in the West End. After the bombs failed to detonate the men stayed at the Newham Hotel, Romford Road, before leaving London by train via Stansted. They were then captured again on CCTV at Johnstone railway station, near Glasgow. Returning to the "bomb factory" in Glasgow they modified the Jeep into an improvised bomb. After filling the Jeep with explosive material, Abdullah and Ahmed left early the following morning, driving around the Loch Lomond area for several hours before attempting their failed attack on Glasgow Airport. Following the trial verdict, Abdullah was sentenced to a minimum of 32 years in prison as a result of his involvement in both incidents.

See also

References

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  67. ^ Department of Homeland Security press release for 29 June 2007.
  68. ^ "US Warned of Glasgow Threat Two Weeks Ago". ABC News. 2007-06-30. http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/06/us-warned-of-gl.html. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  69. ^ Associated Press (2007-07-01). "Suspicious package forces evacuation at JFK terminal". Houston Chronicle (US Houston). http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/4935703.html. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  70. ^ The Register
  71. ^ "Inspiring terror and inspiring mirth are pretty much mutually exclusive. It's the British way."
  72. ^ "We may be witnessing the implosion of takfiri jihadists--religious fanatics who are incredibly inept."
  73. ^ Behind the London-Glasgow Plot, BBC News, 16 December 2008

External links

Coordinates: 55°51′51″N 4°25′56″W / 55.864150°N 4.432120°W / 55.864150; -4.432120


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