Breaking: Car on fire drives into Glasgow airport terminal; Update: Gas cylinders in Jeep? Update: Suspect in critical condition; Update: Scottish cops believe incident is linked to car bomb plot

posted at 11:09 am on June 30, 2007 by Allahpundit

Just breaking on CNN. No idea how serious or unserious this is, but supposedly there are no injuries reported. Stand by.

Update: Hmmm.

Police have confirmed a vehicle has driven into the terminal building in Glasgow Airport and is now on fire.

Earlier, the BBC reported witnesses saying a car on fire had tried to drive into the airport through the main doors

The car’s occupants were seen fighting with police inside the terminal, they said…

He said a four-wheel drive, believed to be a Land Rover, tried to drive into the building, but was stopped by barriers…

“A four by four had rammed into the building and caught on fire.

“Police were scuffling with a gentleman.”

Update: If this incident is a coincidence, it’s one hell of a coincidence: “Eyewitnesses have described a Jeep Cherokee being driven at speed towards the building with flames coming out from underneath.”

Update: Conflicting reports now. The AP is claiming that two cars collided outside the airport, one of them catching on fire and maybe careening into the terminal.

Update: Sky seems to think there’s more to it than the AP.

A 4×4 jeep has driven into the terminal building at Glasgow airport and caught fire, police have confirmed.

Witnesses reported hearing a series of loud “bangs” and saw a man on fire…

“Everyone was in a panic and police and security were scuffling with an Asian gentleman.”

“Asian” is a word commonly used in Britain to describe Pakistanis. Needless to say, if it turns out the AP is right and all the other reports and eyewitnesses are exaggerating, this’ll end up as a textbook case of terror hysteria.

Update: The Beeb is now reporting that the Jeep “exploded” and that the two men inside were both “Asian.” It can’t have been much of an explosion, thankfully, if they were still upright and able to fight with police.

Update: CNN is carrying Sky’s coverage and the teaser at the bottom is “Witness: Man seen taking gas cylinder from car before fire.” Update: All right, their web story has it now: “Witnesses said people removed gas cylinders from the jeep before it caught fire.”

Update: From the video, it looks like the Jeep didn’t penetrate the terminate but ended up right outside the doors.

Update: This deserves a post of its own (and I’ll probably give it one later), but the Scotsman has info about yesterday’s car bomb plot that I haven’t seen elsewhere. And there is, potentially, a Scottish connection:

It was reported last night that the first car, a metallic green Mercedes, was stolen in early June and was spotted first in Scotland and then in Birmingham in the two days before the bomb was defused in London.

Police say they are looking for an Iraqi who went on the run from a control order only 11 days before yesterday’s failed bombing attempts. The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is part of a six-strong cell linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

He went missing on 18 June in north-west England, and his whereabouts are unknown.

The Scotsman understands that MI5 and counter-terrorism police consider him a suspect in the failed attacks. However, security sources insisted he was “one of many possibilities”.

Here’s a report from the Beeb on June 21 about the Iraqi suspect; he’s the seventh terror suspect to escape while under a control order. If you don’t know what a control order is, see here.

Update: An eyewitness now tells the Beeb that the car didn’t actually explode, but was merely giving off “pops and bangs” which he suspects was burning gasoline. Another eyewitness reports hearing what sounded like an explosion.

Update: Maybe it’s the greatest coincidence in history.

Another witness told the BBC that the vehicle was a Land Rover and that there was a heavy stench of petrol after the car crashed. He said he did not believe the vehicle was a car bomb, saying that the explosion was relatively small.

That could simply be due to the car burning, but the powerful smell of gasoline is what tipped off bystanders to the second car bomb found yesterday in Park Lane.

The AP is still the only news agency to report this as a car crash.

Update: More from Sky. It seems safe to say that this was deliberate.

[T]here are reports the men were trying to fling petrol onto the flames.

Scott Gleeson said he saw the jeep speed up and swerve towards the terminal at an angle to hit the door.

Update: Some of the bystanders claimed to have tackled the Jeep’s passengers after they got out even though at least one of those passengers was on fire. If this was a car accident like the AP claims, why did people in the area react by attacking the “victims”?

Update: The AP appears to be backing off the collision scenario: “Amid fears of further attacks, a burning sport utility vehicle crashed at full speed into the terminal building at Glasgow airport in Scotland, police and witnesses said.”

Update: “Some people who were close by shouted ‘let him burn.'” More: “There was a lot of anger – if the crowds had got hold of this gentleman it would have been the end of him.”

Update: They’re showing CNN of the firefighters on the scene. They’ve got three hoses aimed at the Jeep and it’s still burning. Can’t wait to find out what the accelerant they used was. Meanwhile, here’s a new, odd detail from the Beeb:

Thomas Conroy, a maintenance worker at the airport believes the men deliberately tried to set the car on fire.

“It looked like they had molotov cocktails with them,” he said.

“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.”

Update: British cops now say two men were arrested, not four. The reports all along have described two passengers.

Update: CBS says the incident’s now been “declared” a terrorist attack, whatever that may mean. Gordon Brown’s called a meeting of COBRA, his emergency committee, for this evening.

Update: Here’s the best account of the immediate aftermath that I’ve found:

Another eyewitness, Margaret Hughes, told the BBC that people were screaming and running towards the exit shortly after the explosion.

“As soon as I left the building there was black smoke gushing out where the car had obviously been driven into the airport,” she said.

She said the man who had been on fire appeared very calm as he was led away by police.

“He seemed fairly composed, you could say almost in a state of shock,” she said.

“He was quite a large man … and very heavy set. Very dark hair and dark colouring.”

Scott Leeson was waiting to pick up a colleague when he witnessed the Jeep smash in to the airport building.

He said: “The car came speeding past at about 30mph. It was approaching the building quickly.

“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.

“Luckily he did not get the car too far in. He just managed to get the nose of the Jeep inside.

“I spoke to an airport official who seemed to think it was not an accident. He was very angry. He said the men in the car got out and started throwing petrol about – that must be how it caught fire.

I think he’s wrong about that last point. Other eyewitnesses supposedly saw fire on the Jeep while it was speeding towards the terminal.

Update: It’s only a shot from the back, but we’ve hit a news lull so it’s all I’ve got: the first photo of one of the suspects is at the Beeb. He doesn’t look burned at all.

Update: Contrary to earlier reports, the Evening Times says there are indeed injuries here. An eyewitness reports seeing people “lying on the road.” The Scotsman’s finally got a story up, too. The Jeep hit the bollards set up outside the terminal door; that’s why it didn’t break through into the building itself. One of the two suspects ran away with his clothes on fire and was tackled by bystanders; the cops descended on the other one and brought him down.

Update: I don’t know what to make of this — it’s probably just precautionary — but British cops have now closed Blackpool airport in northwest England, too. Meanwhile, a little-reported fact of potentially great symbolic significance: “The Queen is in Scotland today for the inauguration of Scotland’s third Parliament, the first to be under Nationalist minority control.”

Update: I can’t find anything to corroborate the report about Blackpool airport, but now Sky is saying that Alexandra hospital in Paisley, where one of the suspects was taken, is being evacuated too. Smooth move of them to publish the name and invite bomb threats.

Update: More eyewitness accounts from the Sun. They really, really wanted to get into that terminal:

“They were obviously trying to get it further inside the airport as the wheels were spinning and smoke was coming from them.

“One of the men, I think it was the driver, brought out a plastic petrol canister and poured it under the car.

“He then set light to it.”

She added: “At that point a policeman came over, the passenger got out of the car and punched him.

Another bystander describes the initial explosion as “enormous” and says the clothes — and skin — of one of the suspects “fell off” as he was running from police.

Update: COBRA is meeting now, for the third time in as many days as Brown has been prime minister. A Beeb reporter states the obvious, that there are “worrying similarities” between the incidents. No kidding: if this is all the work of one cell then MI5 somehow missed a major plot involving at least three people and three separate bombs in two different countries.

Update: Brown has moved the UK terror threat level to “critical,” the equivalent of code red here in the U.S., which means another attack is expected imminently.

Update: Counterterror officials tell the Blotter that if this is all connected, then it probably involves a cell of as many as 20 people. Really? To build and carry out three dud car bombs?

Update: The Brits’ chances of usable intel from this incident just got cut in half: CNN is reporting that the guy with the burns has gone to meet Allah. I guess the eyewitness who said his skin was falling off wasn’t kidding. Update: Wrong. See below.

Update: CNN’s wondering whether these guys might have been copycats. We’ll have to wait for more details, obviously, but assuming the reports of gas cylinders and a smell of gasoline are true, how likely is a copycat scenario here? Two angry would-be jihadis read about a failed bomb yesterday morning — and decide to emulate it, spur of the moment, by inquiring with the local shopkeep about some propane and gasoline? And no one reports it?

Update: The Scottish police are holding a presser now and say that the suspect hasn’t died, but is in critical condition — and that he had a “suspect device” on him that caused the hospital to be evacuated. They don’t know how lethal it was, or if they do, they’re not saying. To no one’s surprise, the cops think this is linked to the London car-bomb plot. “The vehicle contained materials that were flammable,” the spokesman says.

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