Flaming SUV Rams Scotland Airport
By IAN STEWART,
Posted: 2007-06-30 13:51:35
Filed Under: World
, Crime News
GLASGOW, Scotland (June 30) - Two men rammed a flaming sport utility vehicle into the main terminal of Glasgow airport Saturday, crashing into the glass doors at the entrance in what appeared to be the third terror attack on Britain in two days, witnesses said. Police said two suspects were arrested.
Scottish Television via APTN
A vehicle blazes outside the Glasgow airport. Earlier, an SUV rammed the building at full speed, exploding as it struck the terminal building's doors.
There were no reports of injuries but the airport - Scotland's largest - was evacuated and all flights suspended, a day after British police thwarted a plot to bomb central London, discovering two cars abandoned with loads of gasoline, gas canisters and nails.
"One has to conclude ... these are linked," Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, former head of Britain's joint intelligence committee, told Sky News. "This is a very young government, and we may yet see further attacks."
Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, who took office only Wednesday, was being briefed on developments, Downing Street said.
Detectives said they were keeping an open mind about the suspects in the London case, but terrorism experts said the signs pointed to a cell linked to or inspired by al-Qaida. Police would not comment on an ABC News report saying police had a "crystal clear" picture of one suspect from CCTV footage.
In Glasgow, the green SUV barreled toward the building shortly after 3 p.m., hitting security barriers before crashing into the glass doors and exploding, witnesses said. Two men jumped out of the burning vehicle, one of them engulfed in flames, they said.
"The car came speeding past at about 30 mph. It was approaching the building quickly," said Scott Leeson, who was nearby at the time. "Then the driver swerved the car around so he could ram straight in to the door. He must have been trying to smash straight through."
Two men were arrested, Strathclyde Police spokeswoman Lisa O'Neil said.
Passengers fled running and screaming from the busy terminal, Margaret Hughes told the British Broadcasting Corp. "There was black smoke gushing out where the car had obviously been driven into the airport," she said.
Flames and black smoke rose from the vehicle outside the main entrance. Police said it was unclear if anyone was injured. Other passengers were stranded, with at least one airplane grounded on the runway, the BBC said.
The White House said President Bush was being keep abreast of the events in London and Scotland.
"We're in contact with British authorities on the matter," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
The crash at Glasgow airport comes exactly a week before the second anniversary of the July 7 bombings that killed 52 people.
Leeson said bollards - security posts outside the entrance - stopped the driver from barreling into the bustling terminal at Glasgow's airport.
"He's trying to get through the main door frame but the bollards have stopped him from going through. If he'd got through, he'd have killed hundreds, obviously," he said.
Leeson said only the nose of the vehicle made it inside the building. Richard Grey told the BBC that the vehicle was lodged into the center of the terminal's main entrance.
"The jeep is completely on fire and it exploded not long after. It exploded at the entrance to the terminal," witness Stephen Clarkson told the BBC. "It may have been an explosion of petrol in the tank because it was not a massive explosion."
Two men - one of them engulfed in flames - were in the SUV, witnesses told BBC News executive Helen Boaden, who was at the airport at time. She described the men as South Asian.
Clarkson described him as a large South Asian man. "His whole body was on fire.... He was just talking gibberish," he told the BBC.
"An Asian guy had been pulled out of the car by two police officers he was trying to fight off and they'd got him on the floor," Grey told the BBC.
Boaden said police "wrestled him to the ground - the fire was burning through his clothes - and finally put him out with a fire extinguisher."
Lesson said an airport officials did not think the incident was an accident.
"He said the men in the car got out and started throwing petrol about - that must be how it caught fire," he said.
Another witness, Fiona Tracey, described a "bang" coming from the SUV. The vehicle was on fire and "every now and again there was a bang coming off it. ... There was definitely a bang," she told Sky News television.
Grey said the car did not explode. "There were a few pops and bangs that seemed to be the tires and the petrol."
In the London attempt, one car was abandoned outside a nightclub on Haymarket, a busy street of shops, clubs, theaters and restaurants just yards from Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus.
The other had been towed after being parked illegally on a nearby street and was discovered in an impound lot about a mile away near Hyde Park.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorism chief, said the two devices could have caused "significant injury or loss of life."
"London on the Edge" said the front-page headline in The Independent newspaper while the Daily Mail wondered, "Where's the Next Bomb?"
Mayor Ken Livingstone urged Londoners to remain vigilant.
"The discovery of two potential car bombs in central London, with those responsible still at large, means we face a very real threat of terrorist attack at this moment in time," he said.
The Times newspaper reported that police distributed a document to nightclubs two weeks ago warning of the threat from "vehicle-borne explosive devices" - car bombs. The document, prepared by the National Counterterrorism Security Office, took the form of general counterterrorism advice for British clubs.
Intelligence officials were examining a post to an Islamist Web site - hours before the cars were found - that suggested Britain would be attacked for awarding a knighthood to the novelist Salman Rushdie and for intervening in Muslim countries.
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