Glasgow Airport terror attack

Saturday, 30th June 2007, 1511 BST: In a terrorist attack at Glasgow Airport; two men crashed a jeep into the main terminal building shattering glass doors just yards from passengers lined up at the check-in counters (Glasgow airport was packed with families heading out on vacation). After crashing the green four wheel drive jeep cherokee (registration number L808 RDT), the driver set the jeep and himself alight while trying to ignite explosives. An off-duty police officer hosed down the terrorist to extinguish the flames.

The driver and his passenger engaged in a scuffle with police and a bystander, and were then arrested, and one was taken to hospital. Both men were described by eyewitnesses as being South Asian - a term used to describe people from Afghanistan , Pakistan, and other countries in that region. One of the men was wearing a vest packed with explosives. The car was crammed with gas canisters which would have caused large amounts of casualties if they had exploded.

Eyewitness accounts

Helen Boaden, a BBC news executive who was at Glasgow airport

"Then the police came over and wrestled him to the ground, the fire was burning through his clothes, and finally put him out with a fire extinguisher."

Torquil Campbell - Sergeant, 49

"They were just waiting for death. The fact that they were still alive perplexed them a little bit and they didn’t know what to do. It struck me when the second male came towards me on fire that this was something different, something out of the ordinary, and that this was indeed a terrorist attack. It was hard to comprehend but I just had to accept the fact that terrorism had arrived at Glasgow Airport."

"I knew his intention was to keep me back from the vehicle. He was also looking back at the vehicle. He then ran back to the vehicle and tried to open the back hatch of the Jeep. I think he managed to put his hand in but my attention was drawn to the front of the vehicle and the second male appeared out of the flames, on fire. I believe he had doused himself in petrol but I never saw that. At that point I saw Constable Ferguson coming out with a fire extinguisher in his hand and trying to douse the fire on this male who was just standing in a bit of a daze at the time. The second male then turned round and saw me and again started to lash out with his hands and feet. I thought, ‘what is in the vehicle?’ because at that time I could hear popping and banging coming from the vehicle. By that time I was already sending out an emergency signal on my radio."

Stephen Clarkson

"It may have been an explosion of petrol in the tank because it was not a massive explosion. The jeep is completely on fire and it exploded not long after. It exploded at the entrance to the terminal....I seen people running towards me and panicking. An Asian man was lying on the ground on fire. Flames were coming from his body, and the police approached him...His whole body was on fire.... He was just talking gibberish...They tried to restrain him but he was fighting with the police. It was just lucky that I was there. I managed to knock the man to the ground with my forearm and the police got on top of him and restrained him and put handcuffs on him."

Thomas Conroy, a maintenance worker at Glasgow airport

"It looked like they had molotov cocktails with them. They sort of burst them round about the flames to make sure the car would go up big style. Within minutes it was up and the terminal caught as well."

Ian Crosby, a taxi driver outside the terminal.

"It raced across the central reservation and went straight into the building. It would appear to me to have been a deliberate attack. I think this was a terrorist attack."

James Edgar

"I was in the airport building trying to book a holiday and people were running past us and then suddenly they told us all to get out of the airport. When we went out the main building there was a 4X4 (four-wheeled drive vehicle), as if it was rammed into the building. It was on fire and at that point everybody was just in a panic."

Stewart Ferguson, off-duty Constable, 40

"But it quickly dawned on me that this was no angry motorist - this was something completely different. Then I was aware of some airport personnel trying to assist Sgt Campbell by trying to subdue this chap. It was only when the chap had been subdued that I then was able to look at the vehicle again to see the second guy. He was well ablaze - clothing, hair, skin - and from the attitude that he was in, lying on his back there was a kind of resignation about him. I remember his injuries and to me they were the most horrendous injuries I had seen on a living person. I was free to act, so, knowing where the fire extinguishers were in the building, I grabbed one. I went back out, pulled the pin out, and I just began to spray. Once the flames had been extinguished in his hair and body I aimed the jet in his eyes, just trying to disorientate him."

"It never entered my consciousness to walk away from the guy - I would have been failing in my duty."

Richard Grey

"A green Jeep was in the middle of the doorway burning. There was an Asian guy who was pulled out of the car by 2 police officers, who he was trying to fight off. They've got him on the ground. The car didn't actually explode. There were a few pops and bangs that seemed to be the tires and the petrol. . An Asian guy had been pulled out of the car by 2 police officers he was trying to fight off and they’d got him on the floor".

Margaret Hughes

"There was black smoke gushing out where the car had obviously been driven into the airport."

Jackie Kennedy, beautician from Glasgow

"He had a big smirk on his face. He lifted up what appeared to be a 5-liter drum, which I think had petrol in it, and set himself on fire. His clothes were melting in front of my very eyes. The police tried to pounce on him, but he fought back and was struggling with them. It was only when a member of the public punched him in the face that the police managed to restrain him."

Michael Kerr, injured in attack

"I had just put the suitcases into my car and the first thing that caught my attention was the revving of the car. The car was up on two wheels. The front two wheels were off the ground and the car was getting revved up really loud. I looked over and saw that in the front were two men in the car. One of the guys came out the car and went for the police officer. I just ran over to help the police officer. I tried my best to get the guy. I tried punching and kicking him but he punched me and I fell back and broke my leg."

After undergoing surgery, Michael Kerr now has a pin holding the broken bones together.

Scott Leeson

"The car came speeding past. 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."

Lynsey McBean, 26, from Erskine, Scotland.

Said one of the men took out a plastic gasoline canister and poured a liquid under the car. "He then set light to it." She said the Jeep struck the front door of the airport but got jammed. "They were obviously trying to get it further inside the airport as the wheels were spinning and smoke was coming from them."

Alex McIlveen, 45, Glasgow

"He didn't even flinch. I couldn't believe he didn't go down. A doctor told me later I'd damaged a tendon in my foot." Alex McIlveen after kicking one of the terrorists in the family jewels

Robin Patterson

"It was just a small fire at first. Then there was an enormous explosion and it really was a big explosion. The guy next to the car, his skin and clothes just fell off him. He came running away from the car and he was like an absolute lunatic. He was just literally running away from the police."

John Smeaton BAA worker

Smeaton's first thought on being confronted by the 2 suspects in the burning vehicle was: "What's the score? I've got to get this sorted."

"There was a guy in flames. You just don't expect to see that on a day at work, especially at Glasgow Airport. So I ran straight towards the guy, we're all trying to get a kick-in at him, take a boot to subdue the guy."

"If you come to Glasgow, Glasgow does not accept this. This is Glasgow, so we'll set about you."

"And if any more extremists are still wanting to rise up and start trouble, know this: We'll rise right back up against you. New York, Madrid, London, Paisley ... we're all in this together and make no mistake, none of us will hold back from putting the boot in."

James Stark

"The car, a Cherokee Jeep, drove up. It wasn't going very fast, he tried to drive through the doors and he misjudged it and hit an advertising hoarding at the side. The man then tried to reverse the car out, but it appeared to be stuck. People were shouting at him, telling him to stop it. He took a white can and started pouring it, leaning outside the window pouring it on the vehicle and over himself. When the car crashed at first, [bystanders] were going to help him and when we saw the petrol coming out and the car going on fire they realised it was deliberate. When he got out of the car, the public wanted to catch the man."

Unidentified witnesses

Reported to television news crew that there had been 2 men were in the jeep. One of the men exited the vehicle with his clothes on fire, was restrained by the public and had the flames put out with a fire extenguisher.


Gordon Brown, the new UK Prime Minister

“The first duty of a Government is the security and safety of all the British people so it is right to raise the level of security at airports and crowded places in light of heightened threat. I want all the British people to be vigilant and I want them to support the police and all the authorities in all the difficult decisions they need to make. I know that the British people will stand together, united, resolute and strong."

Michael Chertoff, US Homeland Security Secretary

"Going forward, we will be doing some enhanced air marshal work and similar types of activities with respect to UK travel,"

Willie Rae, Glasgow police chief

"We believe the incident at Glasgow airport is linked to the events in London yesterday. There are clearly similarities and we can confirm that this is being treated as a terrorist incident.''

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister

"I think it has been much better than adequate, it has been exceptional, particularly from our emergency services. Think of it. Only two days afterwards, less than that, one-and-a-half days after a major terrorist incident at Glasgow Airport, the airport is up and running and functioning normally. That's a spectacular achievement and I think it is symbolic of the attitude of the rest of the country."

"You associate the medical profession with people who save lives. Therefore it has a certain shock factor that people involved in that profession could be involved in such terrible activities, or could be accused of being involved in such terrible activities. There's a great deal of shock the people involved in a healing profession could be involved potentially in activities of this kind."

Mohammad Sarwar who represents the Scottish seat of Glasgow central and is Britain's first Muslim MP.

"This is the first day off for the children, and thousands of people were leaving Glasgow airport to go for holidays. To attack Glasgow airport is callous, is shameless and it's unacceptable behaviour."

Jacqui Smith, the UK's new home secretary

After a crisis ministerial meeting chaired by the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, announced that Britain's security level has been raised to "critical". "Critical" is the highest on a 5-level scale, and means another attack could be imminent.

Tony Snow, white house spokesman.

"There is no indication of any specific or credible threat to the United States, no change in the overall security." Snow added that the Transportation Security Administration, the federal agency in charge of security at US airports, is undertaking some "alertness-raising measures." "You're likely to see those [measures] in the increased presence of some TSA agents outside terminals. There will be some inconvenience to passengers in terms of longer wait times."

John Stevens, Gordon Brown's new terrorism adviser (and former Scotland Yard chief)

"This weekend's bomb attacks signal a major escalation in the war being waged on us by Islamic terrorists. This week's terrorists used the same technology, the same bomb-making techniques, the same operating methods as their brothers-in-arms in both Baghdad and Bali."

Pardon me Dr, are you a terrorist?

Two people were arrested at Glasgow Airport at the scene of the attack:

  1. Dr Kafeel Ahmed, who was engulfed in flames and was in a severe condition, was treated for 90% burns at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley. Ahmed was placed under arrest by armed police, the hospital’s accident unit was closed to further patients, and army disposal experts were called in to carry out a controlled explosion of a suspect car. A few days later Ahmed was moved to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary where there is a specialist burns unit. It is thought that Ahmed was the driver of the jeep. Ahmed is originally from Bangalore, India. He is an engineer with a PhD in design and technology.

  2. Bilal Talal Abdul Samad Abdulla was taken to Govan police station. Abdulla, a 27-year-old Baghdad-trained doctor, is believed to have been in the passenger seat of the Jeep Cherokee. Abdulla was born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, where his father also practised as a doctor.

Two additional people, 26-year-old Mohammed Jamil Abdelqader Asha (a doctor) and his 27-year-old wife (Dana), had their vehicle forced off the road by police between 2am and 4am on the 1st July 2007, and were arrested on the M6 motorway, near Cheshire. Asha was a native Palestinian who carried a Jordanian passport, and lived in Sunningdale Grove, in Newcastle-under-Lym; he qualified in Jordan in 2004 and practised as a neurologist at the North Staffordshire Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent. Asha was taken for questioning to the Paddington Green Police Station in London.

A 5th terror suspect, a 26-year-old man, was arrested in Liverpool after a car was stopped in the Lime Street area. The man was a 26-year-old postgraduate trainee doctor from Bangalore, India.

Bollards saved the day

The barricades outside the entrance to Glasgow Airport, called bollards in Scottish lingo, prevented the jeep from crashing into the airport terminal and killing hundreds."

Closure of Glasgow Airport

In the wake of the terror attack, Glasgow airport was evacuated and all flights suspended. BAA's Scottish airports spokesman Donald Morrison said that the Glasgow Airport building would be closed "for the foreseeable future" as a result of the smoke damage to the check-in area. Many stranded airline passengers tried to get trains to other parts of the UK from Glasgow Central station. Infratil's Glasgow Prestwick (about 50 km from Glasgow city) handled some of the flights diverted from Glasgow airport.

On Sunday the 1st July 2007 a spokesman for airport operator BAA told AFP that Glasgow Airport was partially reopened. "It's a phased reopening. Two flights have landed and one is going to take off around 09:00. There is still significant disruption. We are pushing to reopen fully as soon as possible." A total of nine flights were cancelled on the 2nd July (4 departures and 5 arrivals), and by the 3rd of July flights were back to normal again.

Impact on other airports

BAA, who run the Glasgow airport, said through their spokesman Mark Mann that "Extra security measures are in place across our seven airports (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Stansted and Southampton). There are varying different sorts of measures in place depending on that particular airport and the surrounding area." London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports axed curbside drop-off zones. At London Heathrow and London Gatwick pick-up and drop-off lanes closest to the terminals have been closed, with passengers diverted to short-term car parks. At London Heathrow the fee for short-term parking has been waived, so the first 20 minutes is free, but at Gatwick airport the usual £1 charge for the first 15 minutes is still in place.

Liverpool's John Lennon airport was closed after the attack at Glasgow Airport ( police investigated a suspicious vehicle), but had been re-opened by 0440am on Sunday the 1st July 2007.

US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff reported that more US air marshals were being deployed on flights to the UK.

At Manchester Airport, all passenger pick-ups and drop-off are taking place at the short-stay car parks.

Impact on Diana Tribute Concert

More than 60,000 people were due watch a performance on what would have been Princess Diana's 46th birthday, 10 years after her death. People attending the Diana Tribute Concert were requested to limit their personal possessions, as there would be increased searches taking place. Car parking at Wembley was limited solely to those vehicles which had booked their spaces in advance.

Attack comes in wake of attempted London car bombing

The Glasgow Airport terror attack occurred a day after police foiled a potential double car bombing in central London, having discovered explosives in a Mercedes Benz outside a nightclub near Piccadilly Circus and another Mercedes parked nearby. The 2 Mercedes had been loaded with gas canisters, gasoline and nails in one of London's busiest areas on a night when Londoners like to go out. One of the Mercedes was discovered outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub on Haymarket, whilst the other car had been towed after being parked illegally on nearby Cockspur Street and was discovered in a vehicle impound in Park Lane, near Hyde Park.

Pauline Neville-Jones, former head of Britain's joint intelligence committee

"One has to conclude ... these are linked. This is a very young government, and we may yet see further attacks. ... We are seeing a pattern of attack in the early days of a new government."

Shades of attack on Los Angeles Airport

The terror attack reminded some of the foiled attack in December 1999 on Los Angeles International Airport, when customs officials prevented Ahmed Ressam from driving a vehicle, crammed with explosives in the tyre well, into the airport. The man was jailed for 22 years.

Anniversary of London transit terror attacks

The terror attacks come close to the second anniversary of the 7th July 2005 London transit attacks which killed 52 people.


Airport 'hero' injured in attack

Salmond praises airport 'heroes'

Airport burns doctor treated in own hospital

Doctors are quizzed in nationwide hunt for al-Qaeda link to airport bomb plot

Glasgow Airport back in business

Police Arrest Eighth Suspect Over U.K. Terror Attacks

More US air guards on UK flights

British Police Arrest 5 For Bombings- Including Jihad Doctors

UK Terror Attacks Continue as Glasgow Airport Targeted

Glasgow Airport plot fails

More terror as bombers target Glasgow airport

Car bomb hits Glasgow airport

Raw footage from Glasgow Airport Terror Attack

Glasgow airport car attack sparks security crackdown

Glasgow Airport Control TowerGlasgow Airport in brief

Glasgow airport is located 8 miles west of Glasgow's city center, near the towns of Paisley and Renfrew in Renfrewshire, Scotland; it is the busiest of Scotland's 3 main airports (although Edinburgh airport is currently growing at a faster rate). Glasgow airport is operated by BAA, and has 2 runways and one terminal.

Glasgow airport official website

Map of Glasgow Airport

Glasgow airport is located just north of the M8 motorway at junction 28.

Map of Glasgow Airport

Glasgow Airport Terminal

Hub Airport

Glasgow Airport is a hub airport for easyJet, Flyglobespan and Loganair.

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