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Glasgow Airport Terror Attack; Senior U.S. Official: Attacks Likely the Work of Amateurs; Police Officials in Glasgow Hold a News Briefing
Aired June 30, 2007 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: Here's what's happening "Now in the News."
More angst in the U.K. as the British government raises the terror level to critical. It is the U.K.'s highest such designation. Police now believe yesterday's failed bomb plot of two parked vehicles packed with explosives is related to the latest apparent terror attack in neighboring Scotland, where two people are in custody for today's incident at Glasgow's international airport. And we have learned that one of those suspects has in fact died en route to the airport.
You're in the NEWSROOM.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN ANCHOR: And just moments ago, the new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, released a statement talking about what has happened today. As our own Paula Newton in London has told us, he seemed tired. This has been a rough couple of days, as you might imagine, for him. The second straight day of terrorism fears, and it has also inspired Washington to make some moves.
The latest incident and others that might be imminent in London have raised airport security measures in the U.S., though it has not raised the terror level in the U.S.
We want to go back to our correspondent in London, Paula Newton, to talk a little bit more about the latest. We understand that one of the two suspects in the SUV has died of his injuries. We also heard from a witness earlier who told us that passengers and airport workers helped the police there in Glasgow.
They rushed the two suspects. In fact, we heard for the first time that a civilian actually broke his leg as the passengers and the other airport workers were trying to subdue the two suspects. One was on fire. He still was fighting the police, according to this witness. And the other is in custody now.
So, again, let's go to Paula Newton in our London bureau with CNN to get the very latest.
And Paula, you told us just moments ago that the ethnicity of these two guys is Asian, but we don't know much more about them yet, right?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely nothing specific. And that's from the eyewitness accounts that you heard. They were described as Asian. One of them was described as very tall, the man that they actually subdued. There was the other who witnesses said was badly burned. He was actually on fire.
He was taken to hospital. We don't know if he died en route to hospital or at hospital. But again, sources telling us that he has died and the other remains in custody.
We are awaiting a press conference from police in Scotland in about a half hour from now that will hopefully give us more detail on all of this.
In the meantime, as you were saying, the threat level raised here in Britain to the level of critical. That means that an attack is expected imminently. It also means that some of the highest protective measures that Britain can impose will be imposed.
And that doesn't mean that the public will necessarily know about those before they get to an event, before they travel. The reason is, no one wants to tip off any terrorists here as to what the government has in terms of protective measures.
At this point in time, we have still not heard of events cancelled, like Wimbledon, like the Diana memorial concert that's supposed to go on tomorrow at Wembley Stadium. Still no word on that. Until we hear more, we can only assume that those events will go on with absolutely heavy security around them.
We had our statement from Gordon Brown, again reminding people why it was raised to the level of critical, not giving much detail, admittedly, but telling Britons to remain vigilant. He looked very tired, as I said. And this must be intensely personal for him now.
He is Scottish. He was born in Glasgow. We had this incident in Glasgow, and sources close to the investigation here in London of those two car bombs that were found, sources telling us that those two cards are also linked back to Glasgow, Scotland.
We were talking about before how had possibly could be linked in terms of the hand-over from Prime Minister Tony Blair to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. We had had some chatter of that on the Internet months ago. That was reported in April. And here, perhaps this is a coincidence, perhaps not. Perhaps this is the clear message that some people intend to give to the new prime minister here, Gordon Brown.
ROESGEN: OK. Paula Newton reporting live for us in London.
Thank you, Paula. We'll check back in with you later.
LONG: Now, on Wednesday, when Gordon Brown became prime minister, he was immediately charged with forming his cabinet, getting the new government in place. Just days later, 72 hours later, he is facing severe flooding in his country and also renewed fears of terrorism.
Mr. Brown, as Paula Newton just reported, looking exhausted as he gave his first speech to the public about these renewed fears of terrorism. And here's that brief comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I've just come from a meeting with the police and with the security services and with the home secretary and government ministers. And let me, first of all, thank the police security services, all the emergency services for the dedicated professionalism that has been shown in responding to the incidents yesterday in London and now today the attack at Glasgow airport.
The first duty of a government is the security and safety of all the British people. So it is right to raise the levels of security at airports and in crowded places in the light of the heightened threat.
I want all British people to be vigilant and I want them to support the police and all the authorities in the difficult decisions that they have to make. I know that the British people will stand together united, resolute and strong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LONG: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issuing that statement just moments ago after an emergency meeting to discuss the renewed fears of terrorism. Mr. Brown -- Prime Minister Brown, excuse me, mentioned that the U.K. had raised the terror alert level. It is now at its highest level, critical -- Susan.
ROESGEN: And now we want to hear from another eyewitness there at the Glasgow airport, someone who was interviewed earlier today on the BBC. This is a woman, Jackie Kennedy, and this is what she had to tell the BBC
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joining us now from Glasgow, Jackie Kennedy, who was an eyewitness to this attack.
Can you tell us what you saw?
JACKIE KENNEDY, WITNESS: Basically, a car, a Cherokee Jeep, a green one. Actually, it tried to ram the doors of the airport.
They came at an angle and hit a concrete pillar and the doors. And then I noticed that obviously the man wasn't trying to get out of the car. And the front of the car actually had flames on it. He then left a petrol container and poured over himself, and then stayed in the car. And then obviously came out, stayed, and was engulfed in flames.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there an explosion, or was it just that a fire started when he got the petrol out?
KENNEDY: No. The car was actually on fire inside the front passenger and driver's side. But there wasn't a great deal of flames, obviously, until he lifted up this petrol container. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And tell us what happened as he got out. I mean, who stopped him?
KENNEDY: Basically, when he got out of the car, he was engulfed in the flames. And two of the airport staff tried to put him out with fire extinguishers, which he didn't look very happy about. He then laid down on the ground and basically -- you know, the whole thing was on fire. And then eventually, they managed to put the fire out on him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what about the other man? What was he doing? Had people already grabbed him by that stage?
KENNEDY: Yes. The passenger, I believe, got out of the car and tried to enter the building. And I think the police actually managed to get him quite quickly. But obviously the driver of the car was engulfed in flames and the police officer couldn't actually get to him because he was burning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get a look at them? I mean, people have said that they were of Asian appearance.
KENNEDY: Yes, they were.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you saw them both?
KENNEDY: Yes, I did. (INAUDIBLE) both of Asian appearance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, the other thing that people have said is that there may have been petrol containers inside the car or gas canisters. I don't know, were you able to get a look at any of that?
KENNEDY: I couldn't see inside the car. I don't know whether the windows were tinted or whether it was just because it was quite dark and rainy at the time.
The car did explode, obviously, about three times. But I believe if there was, you know, petrol containers in the back of the jeep, it would have been a much bigger explosion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it clear to all of you looking on what was going on at that stage? I mean, there was no doubt in your mind that this was an attack?
KENNEDY: At the beginning, I thought it was just somebody that had obviously, you know, just crashed the car into the building by mistake. But as I continued to look and see the flames and inside of the car, I realized then that this was obviously deliberately done. And the fact that the guy was in flames and seemed to be enjoying himself, smiling and everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How quickly were the police there?
KENNEDY; Well, the police were there, I would say, within a couple of seconds, but obviously there was only a couple of police that were on duty at the time outside the building. One of the policemen did try to arrest the man that was engulfed in flames and did actually spray some mace into his eyes. But I think with the wind blowing, it blew back in his eyes and he obviously couldn't restrain him too well because he couldn't see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so he was able to -- because one man had talked about him trying to then get back to the car. Is that what happened?
KENNEDY: Yes, I believe he did try to get back to the car. A member of the public actually came out and actually punched the man in the face, and this enabled the police to actually get a hold of him and actually get handcuffs on him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROESGEN: Again, that was an eyewitness there at the Glasgow airport earlier today. Since that interview, the one suspect who was on fire has died at the hospital. The other is in custody, and we don't yet know anything at all about who they were -- Melissa.
LONG: President Bush has been following the developments in Glasgow, out of London, as he's awaiting the arrival of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Putin is expected to visit the president at his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, tomorrow.
Ed Henry is there covering that visit, but today, of course, covering the very latest developments.
And the president, although he is at his vacation spot, has been staying in the know moment to moment.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He's been getting briefings, Melissa. And we actually have a bit of new information from a senior U.S. official, who just told me that while today's incident does seem to be terror, the incident in Scotland, the U.S. is not overly concerned at this point.
This senior official said that's because these incidents both in Glasgow and London were "not professional". That while there may eventually seem to be a tie to al Qaeda or some other entity down the road, that that's a possibility, that's always a possibility. There's no sign at this point of some sort of a mastermind plan by al Qaeda or someone else.
This official adding, "It looks like amateur hour, not very sophisticated attacks," and saying, "This is clearly not 9/11," that these were not major attacks, major incidents. They're concerned but not overly concerned.
Not -- certainly also this official noted that there had not been deaths, victims on the ground from these incidents. That's why the U.S., according to this official, has not followed Britain in raising the national threat level here in the United States. Also, because the U.S. sees no specific, credible threats against the United States at this point. As for why President Bush has not called the new British prime minister, Gordon Brown -- that's been a question out there -- this official saying the U.S. is concerned that would only escalate the situation, make it seem more grim if the two leaders were conferring. And again, at this point the U.S. does not see a specific, credible threat against the United States, so they're not overly concerned that that call has not been placed to Prime Minister Brown.
Obviously, though, the U.S. and Britain, both governments, working at other levels, making sure they're working together on these various investigations, but it's also why the president is moving ahead with vacation here in Kennebunkport while he still gets briefings -- Melissa.
LONG: Ed Henry live from Kennebunkport.
Ed, thank you.
HENRY: Thank you.
ROESGEN: And ahead in the NEWSROOM we will have much more on the Glasgow airport attack. We'll have the newest information as it comes in.
We'll also be talking to a security expert to check on how this might affect airports here in the U.S. eventually, even though, as you just heard Ed Henry say, White House officials say they're not too concerned about it, not yet.
Also, a follow-up on the foiled London car bombing plot and the increased police presence there.
Stay with CNN.
ROESGEN: And the week coming up is very busy for summer travel. We've been talking about the terrorist attack that didn't hurt anybody, but it was an attack today at the Glasgow airport in Scotland.
And we want to find out what's happening at American airports. We believe that we are going to see greater security measures with the July 4th holiday coming up.
So let's go to CNN's Jim Acosta. He is at LaGuardia airport in New York -- Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Susan.
Yes, if the folks at home are wondering how the situation in Scotland affects them, the short answer at this point is not much. We're at LaGuardia, one of the busier airports in the United States, here in New York City. And you can just take a look behind me.
It looks like business as usual as people are pulling up -- cars, taxis, all sorts of vehicles pulling up, dropping off their loved ones as people head off for the July 4th holiday, what is a long holiday weekend coming up for a lot of people. But we have noticed at least some measurable change in the security here.
You have seen throughout the day some increased police presence here at the airport. One of the NYPD Hercules units did show up here at the airport at this terminal about an hour ago. We saw them rush in. And this is that -- you'll see these throughout the city from time to time, where you'll see 10 or 12 NYPD cruisers with their -- with their sirens blazing and so forth, rushing about the city.
This is sort of a counterterrorism approach that the city has found to be effective in that they sort of show everybody around town that there is a police presence ongoing, despite the fact that there isn't really anything in terms of a security threat at that point. This is something the police do from time to time.
We saw them earlier today, asked them, "Are you here because of what's happening over in Scotland?" They said, "Yes, we were over in the city and we were diverted over here because of heightened security measures here at the airport."
We also saw other -- you know, other signs of an enhanced police presence here. You saw the -- we saw the police officers walking around with assault rifles and so forth, stuff that you might not normally see on an everyday basis.
But all in all, essentially another day at the airport. Maybe just a slight difference in terms of what the passengers might see as they show up at the terminal, but no big lines, as far as we can see at this point -- Susan.
ROESGEN: Well, Jim, you know CNN is broadcast in airports around the country. Have you been able to talk to any passengers who have been watching what's happening or who've heard about it and are concerned about it?
ACOSTA: You know, I've just spoken with a couple of passengers. And to be quite honest, both of those passengers didn't even know what was going on in Scotland.
So I'm not really sure that everybody is aware of exactly what's happening in terms of that breaking situation over in Glasgow. But I think as people become aware, they probably will take extra time in terms of getting ready for the airport and so forth. And that's what U.S. officials are saying now.
If you're heading off to the airport, you ought to prepare yourself a little bit, maybe show up a half hour to an hour ahead of time. That's not an official statement that's being made, but that's sort of, you know, the garden variety tip that goes out every time security gets ramped up in these sorts of situations. But all in all, I mean, to be quite honest, what we're seeing here at LaGuardia really looks like just another day at the airport.
ROESGEN: Well, that's good news for American passengers. That's OK. We'll take it.
Thank you, Jim Acosta, reporting live for us.
ACOSTA: You bet.
LONG: All Right. So we had the live report from LaGuardia. What about the situation in Washington, at Ronald Reagan Airport?
CNN's Lisa Goddard is there.
And does it seem the same there, just business as usual, Lisa?
LISA GODDARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the most part, Melissa, yes, it does seem mostly like business as usual. But we just did confirm with the police chief for this airport, National Airport, and also for Dulles airport. He tells us that they are increasing security at both airports.
He would not give us any details for understandable reasons. But he did say that people coming to these airports should notice the difference.
We've been here a few hours now, and we have seen a few more police, a few more officials and officers. But not a large-scale presence, as was indicated in some of Jeanne Meserve's reporting. The Department of Homeland Security has said increased security may be seen, may be unseen.
And what I think is interesting here, actually, Melissa, is that we've talked to a lot of passengers. As Jim said, many people don't know about what happened in Glasgow. But some are learning more and more, and those groups are really divided into two -- domestic passengers who say they do feel very secure flying today. They have trust in the American security system. But international passengers are a different story. Many of them are much more noticeably nervous.
We're going to play some sound from both groups, starting with two sisters who are originally from London. One of them is going to return to London next week. The other was planning to go with her, and now she's changed her mind and postponed her plans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, you know, you've just got to do what you've got to do. You know? I have to travel, so I haven't got much choice. But obviously, you know, it is worrying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's scary. Very, very scary. But because I have an emergency, I have to fly. And we already have our tickets. But other than that, I would not have been flying. I'm very scared of the airport, you know, and security.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I fly all the time with my job. I fly around the country. So I've gotten used to the threat.
It's just part of what I take on with my job. So I feel that, you know, if it's going to happen to me, it's going to happen to me on the street or in an airplane, or wherever it might be. I do think that we've tried to do as much as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GODDARD: And there you see the difference. Laura Gray (ph), the last woman speaking, is returning home to Raleigh. She says she feels very comfortable.
The two women you heard first, they're going to Florida to visits a sister, then on to London, where they will split. The one sister returning here to Washington and canceling her plans to return.
Now, you see some barriers outside of the airport. Those are what people here say will keep cars from doing the same thing that happened in Glasgow. They say these metal barriers about three feet apart. Each of them are strong and sturdy, they were put here two years ago.
You can see people dropping off their passengers as normal, dropping off their baggage. But as Jim reported in Los Angeles (sic), for the most part, a lot of calm here, but under the surface, for international passengers specifically, there is a lot of nervousness -- Melissa.
LONG: CNN's Lisa Goddard reporting from Ronald Reagan Airport.
Thanks so much, Lisa.
ROESGEN: And just to recap here this afternoon, the terror alert in Britain has been raised to its highest level, a level of critical, which means the British authorities are very concerned that more terrorist incidents of some sort are imminent.
There were two suspects initially captured in that flaming car at the Glasgow airport. One was very badly burned and later died in the hospital. One suspect remains. We don't know who he is or who he might be affiliated with, but we will bring you the very latest as it comes in to CNN.
Don't go away.
ROESGEN: And as we're coming up on half past the hour here, here's the very latest on what's happened.
A second straight day of edginess and people on alert in the United Kingdom. First, the foiled car bomb plot in London, and then this today, an SUV driven into the front terminal of the airport in Glasgow.
Two suspects inside, one on fire, one not. The one who was badly burned has since died at the hospital. The other is in police custody.
Amazingly, nobody inside the airport was hurt, we believe, except for one person, a civilian, who we were told by a witness earlier broke his leg as passengers and airport workers rushed to try to help the British police -- the Scottish police there to subdue the two suspects.
So, again, a car loaded with what we believe is gasoline jumped a barrier, driven at a high rate of speed, got into a controlled area, broke into the front glass of the airport terminal there. Two suspects inside -- one dead, one alive, but in custody.
And we are following this with as much information as we can get for you.
Britain's terror alert has now been raised to critical, the highest level in that country. And it is an indication, the British authorities say, they expect more terrorist incidents to be imminent.
We'll take a break and be right back.
ROESGEN: It is now half past the hour, and this is today's big story, another apparent terror attempt in the U.K.
Scotland Yard is investigating closed-circuit video, trying to find suspects in yesterday's failed car bombing in London. Meanwhile, today's incident at the Glasgow, Scotland, airport has the police believing that it is terror related and related to the foiled car bomb plot in London.
An SUV crashing into the airport terminal there, bursting into flames. Two suspects were arrested there, but one has since died. And British authorities have now again raised the terror level to critical, which is the highest designation.
LONG: Now, again, with the heightened terror alert at the level of critical, it brings us to wonder whether or not activities, some high- profile activities planned for over the weekend, will be canceled.
CNN's Paula Newton has been with us throughout the day, providing us with insight.
And of course we have the Gay Pride Parade going on, the planned memorial concert at a large facility to the late Princess Diana, and of course Wimbledon going on.
Any word from the government about whether or not those will be canceled or postponed?
NEWTON: Not yet. That -- certainly that call will come from police. If they haven't done it by now, chances are the memorial concert and Wimbledon will continue as scheduled.
But what they have done is, because they have increased the alert, it means that security at those places will be significantly tighter. And that means that if they do believe that at any point in time they can't keep it safe, that they can postpone, delay or keep people from entering that site. It means a lot of disruption to a lot of people trying to get on with their lives in this country, but obviously the government saying it's warranted.
And again, just to recap, CNN is now reporting that the two car bombs in London are linked to the investigation that's ongoing now in Glasgow, that those two cars have been tracked back to Glasgow as well. And CNN now reporting that one of the two men arrested died from his injuries.
We have some very dramatic eyewitness reports saying that he was on fire and he apparently has died from his injuries. We are awaiting confirmation of that possibly from police any minute now. And we will bring that to you when indeed we get it.
More information coming to us now in terms of what has been going on in terms of the government's thinking in raising the threat level. The government's top terror advisor, Lord John Stevens, who is the former London police commissioner, saying that this is a significant escalation here in the war on terror. He says this is a deadly network of interlinked operational cells.
He's warning Britons this will get worse before it gets better. And he says that people here are now importing the tactics of Baghdad and Bali.
This is a sobering context to everything we've been reporting today. And if he's decided to put that in a published report Britons are going to read tomorrow, it is highly significant.
LONG: Paula, for those living in the U.K., for people in the U.S. traveling to the U.K., whether on business or pleasure, what will they experience on the streets with this heightened level of the -- the heightened terror alert level?
NEWTON: A little more disruption, certainly in terms of underground train stations closing on and off. But in terms of the airport, making sure that you're absolutely scrutinized, it will mean more traffic jams here in London. And we didn't need any more.
But on the level of comfort, it is very comforting, as I experienced today, to see authorities out on the streets, to see them at those underground stations. So you kind of have to take the good with the bad in you are coming to Britain in the sense of knowing that they're on top of this as much as they can be, but that you may be inconvenienced, trips may take a little bit longer.
Of course, there is a lot of chaos at the airports right now in Britain. Except for the heightened security, the airports seem to be operating normally -- safe, perhaps, too. We have no indication yet that Edinburgh has been open to traffic. The airport is open, but we don't know if it's open to traffic yet.
Also reports that CNN cannot confirm that Liverpool airport has been closed now because of a threat. We cannot confirm that though whatsoever, and we'll give you more information on that as we get it. LONG: Also want to talk to you about the prime minister, just days into his new assignment. They had a meeting earlier today with the so-called COBRA crisis cell which gathers during times of emergency.
Can you talk to us a little bit about COBRA and exactly what fine of meeting that is?
NEWTON: It is a code name for an emergency response meeting. How times have changed here. Before, they never even let anyone know that these meetings were going on. Now they do let the public know.
It is chaired by the prime minister. Critical is the head of Scotland Yard, the head of MI-5, which is the domestic spy agency, if you will, and the head of MI-6, which is the foreign intelligence agency.
All of them have input, give a situational report on exactly what's going on, update the prime minister on the investigation, and also give a recommendation on things like the threat level. And that's what happened earlier on today.
You know, we saw Gordon Brown emerge from that meeting a very, very tired man after just 72 hours on the job. And this has to be intensely personal for Gordon Brown, if it isn't even just connected to his background. We just remind viewers that he is Scottish and he was born in Glasgow.
Right now, obviously this hitting him very personally.
LONG: Paula Newton, thank you so much from London.
And Gordon Brown, the prime minister, saying the first duty there is the security and safety of the people.
ROESGEN: And now we'd like to bring in again CNN's Jeanne Meserve. Jeanne Meserve is in Washington for us.
And Jeanne, earlier today we heard our reporter, Ed Henry, who's following the president in Kennebunkport, say that a White House official told him that they're not too concerned about what's happened in Great Britain, that in this White House official's words, this was amateur hour, not professional, so they're not really concerned about it. And Bush himself -- President Bush has gone bicycling today. He's been out on his boat today.
Is that the same sort of level of non-concern that you're getting from security forces in the Homeland Security Department?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No, I wouldn't say it's matching what I'm hearing here. I know that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff came into the office today. He'd been off on some personal time. He came in to the office for several hours to monitor events in Britain and also to coordinate the U.S. response.
And what is that response? Well, we're going to stay at the same threat level here that we have been on. That is threat level yellow. Aviation was already on orange, but now they're going to go to something which is known amongst airport officials, anyway, as enhanced orange. They're going to do some extra security, according to a transportation security official.
Federal officials were in touch today with the airports, with the airlines, with law enforcement, providing them with a menu of the sorts of steps they might want to take around their airports, things like increased canine patrols, increased vehicle inspections, more behavioral profiling. And then it's going to be up to those airports and their law enforcement partners to determine exactly what they want to put together for a security profile.
It will hinge on their situation, on their location, the size of the airport. And the guess is that you're going to see the most serious ramp-up in security at the big airports around the United States. Also, some increase in security, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff says, around mass transit and other sorts of transit facilities here in the United States.
So, I would say there is concern, although the secretary emphasized in a statement this afternoon that there is no specific and credible threat here in the United States. No connection drawn between what's happened in Britain and what's happened here. They're doing this for deterrent effect. They're doing this out of an abundance of caution -- Susan.
ROESGEN: And at a very busy travel time.
Jeanne Meserve again, reporting for us in Washington -- Melissa.
LONG: And we do want to make sure you're aware of exactly what you are watching right there. You have two images of the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. In the bottom, of course you have another airport. That's LAX, Los Angeles International.
And then in the upper left-hand corner, the microphone are set, the cameras are ready. We're just waiting for a news conference to get under way from Glasgow. Waiting to hear from police, airport officials, as well.
It's 9:37 in the evening there in Scotland. Two minutes. I'm assuming that's a two-minute warning. So we will bring this to you as soon as it gets under way.
ROESGEN: And live now to the news conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
WILLIAM RAE, STRATHCLYDE POLICE: I have a prepared statement to make, and I will be willing to answer one or two questions at the end. But appreciate that this inquiry is a live one. I'm going to return to police headquarters to maintain my oversight of what is going on. About 15:15 hours this afternoon, a Jeep Cherokee drove into a front door at the check-in area of the terminal building at Glasgow International Airport. The vehicle caught fire on impact.
Emergency services were immediately in attendance, and two men from the vehicle were arrested at the scene. One of the men was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, where he is currently detained, suffering from severe burns. And he is in a critical condition.
When he was being treated at the hospital, a suspect device was found at the hospital. And as a consequence of that, the hospital was partly evacuated until this device was removed and put into a safe area. The other man arrested at the scene has been detained in police custody.
The vehicle involved is still at the location. It is now highly unstable condition, and police officers have had to await clearance from colleagues and other emergency services before making an approach.
As a consequence of that, we had to evacuate the airport, and a number of passengers have been left on aircraft on the tarmac. Our primary concern was their safety. And it would have been unwise to evacuate them in towards the terminal building. We realize the inconvenience and discomfort this has caused, but it was their safety that was our paramount concern.
We do not know at this stage if there was anyone else in the vehicle. What we can say is that when we have clearance to approach the subject of forensic examination, and then we'll arrange for the vehicle to be removed for further examination.
As a consequence of this incident, the airport is closed. At this time it's unclear when we will be able to declare the airport safe and allow it to return to normal service. But be assured that we will do so as quickly as we can.
I can confirm that 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.
Following yesterday's incidents in London, Strathclyde Police and all other forces throughout the country have increased their activities in relation to potential further incidents, and there has been a close liaison with the Metropolitan Police Counterterrorism Unit, SO15. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, who has responsibility for terrorism throughout the U.K., is currently en route to Glasgow.
There was no intelligence prior to this incident that suggested that Scotland was going to be attacked. However, in light of the events in London, there has been close dialogue with officers from SO15 and increased police activity across all forces in the country.
Following the incident at Glasgow airport, the threat level across the country has now been raised to critical. We have raised security arrangements at airports and other key locations across the Strathclyde area. And the same is true in relation to other similar venues across Scotland.
First, we have absolutely no intelligence to suggest that there are any -- there was any intended further attacks or further incidents of terrorism. We are asking the public to be extremely vigilant at this time and report any suspicious activity to the police.
We continue to treat this as an ongoing incident and would urge anyone who was in the area or who has any information about this incident to come forward. In particular, we are aware that between 20 and 30 people were standing outside the airport terminal at the time of the incident, and we are anxious to speak to them. I would ask if they would contact the police officer -- a number I will give later.
Following admission of one of the men to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, as I said earlier, the emergency unit had been closed. But it has now -- that has been cleared, and it is business as usual at the hospital.
There was one other individual, a member of the public, who was injured at the scene of this incident. He was treated in hospital for an injury to his leg. At this stage, we have no information of any other casualties in relation to the incident.
I am leading the investigation, and given the connection between London and the Glasgow airport incident, officers from SO15 are currently working with Strathclyde Police, and we are jointly investigating this matter.
This horrendous criminal act was felt by every single member of our communities. And as I said earlier, it has particularly impacted on those who intended traveling abroad on one of the busiest weeks of the holiday season. It is important that community support each other at this time and understand that public safety will always come first for the emergency services and for the government.
I can confirm that throughout the day we've had active support from minority communities here in the west of Scotland, and we have been working closely with community advisers who assist the police at such times. They are extremely supportive of our efforts to protect life and have been giving us very useful advice.
The majority of people in Scotland are clearly supportive of our efforts. But there are a small number -- small number of individuals who will use this type of opportunity to harass, to victimize members of our minority communities across the country. This type of behavior will not be tolerated and will be robustly dealt with.
The public support for the incidents in London and the incident today in Glasgow has been excellent. And I would publicly like to thank them for the support that they have given. In particular, passengers and visitors to Glasgow, I appreciate that they had to show a great deal of patience and understanding for what must be a very stressful time. If anyone listening, looking at this broadcast has any information at all, I would ask them to telephone the incident room at 0-800-056- 0944. That is for information relating to the incident. Or if any of those passengers -- sorry -- anyone who was standing outside the airport terminal has not been in touch with the police, if they would contact that number or their local police office.
That is all that I can say in relation to the statement. I am prepared to take a couple of questions before I depart.
QUESTION: James Matthews (ph) from Sky News. Two questions, if I may.
First of all, what can you tell us about these individuals? Where were they from? Have you been able to glean anything from the man that you were questioning in Dublin?
Second of all, this suspect device in the hospital, did it turn out to be an active device? And where was it from (ph)? Suggestions of a suicide belt?
RAE: In relation to your first question, James, it would not be appropriate for me to say anything about the two men in custody. We are at the start of a very delicate and detailed investigation, and at this stage, there are legal restrictions in terms of what I can disclose. And I don't intend to say anything about that.
In relation to the device at the hospital, it was removed and taken to a safe place. It is still the subject of examination. And when we understand what it is, it will be -- it will be removed. And when it's safe, rendered safe.
QUESTION: It was on his person?
RAE: It was on his person.
QUESTION: A suicide belt?
RAE: I can't say any more about the incident.
QUESTION: And you say that this is linked to what happened in London. Is it linked in terms of vehicles, or is it linked in terms of the individuals who were involved in both cases?
RAE: There are very similar features of both incidents. And we have -- through that, we have been able to link incidents. I'm not prepared to say anything more than that.
QUESTION: Similarities in the incidents?
RAE: There are similarities, yes.
QUESTION: Jeannie Clark (ph) from BBC News.
Are you going to tell us what information you have gained by the registration plates of the vehicle about where it originated from? And also, what are your -- what is your information on what might be in the vehicle presently (INAUDIBLE)?
RAE: The inquiries into the vehicle are still ongoing, and it's not something I would disclose at this stage. The vehicle contained materials which were inflammable, and it -- at this time, I can say no more than that.
It will be the subject of close forensic examination. You'll appreciate that we evacuated people from this, and the vehicle has been very badly destroyed. And it's difficulty at this stage to even know exactly what was in it. So I can't really say anything more than that at this time.
QUESTION: But it's certainly your view that there is more material in that vehicle that could prove to be a danger than actually combusted in the fire?
RAE: We are waiting for the clearance from the experts in relation to that. We will -- we will -- I expect to be cleared soon. But at the moment, we're awaiting clearance from the other services about being able to approach the vehicle.
QUESTION: Mr. Rae, had there been any prior intelligence that something like this may be going?
RAE: No. As you know, there was a general alert across the country following the incidents in London. And we have arrangements in place to respond to that. But we had no specific intelligence either that there was an attack likely in Scotland or in relation to the incident that occurred.
RAE: I have no information about that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we take one more question?
QUESTION: Can you tell us true (INAUDIBLE)?
RAE: I'm not aware of such an incident. And it seems unlikely from the information I have. But what I can say is that, as a consequence of the incident, members of the public have been phoning in to our control room reporting suspicious packages, suspicious vehicles, which is something that we encourage.
We want the public to let us know. We all need to remain vigilant at this time.
But as far as the incident you just gave, I have no information about that.
Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen. I will try to keep you informed as the night progresses. But you understand that I'm engaged with this investigation and I need to return there now.
LONG: William Rae of the Strathclyde Police bringing us up to date on the latest in their investigation, again confirming that two men have been arrested.
One person is still being cared for, listed in critical condition at Royal Alexandra Hotel. And on that suspect, some sort of device.
William Rae of the Strathclyde Police would not give any more information, except to say that a device that was suspect was found on him. It looks like we'll get more information on that in the coming days.
And because of that, Susan, you know that the hospital -- part of the hospital had to be evacuated for a small amount of time as a precaution.
ROESGEN: And that was a correction to what we had been reporting earlier, that the badly burned suspect had died. We just learned there from the police commander, William Rae, that he did not die. He is in critical condition, but still alive. And the other suspect is in police custody.
A couple of interesting things there from that news conference. They are hoping that between 30 and 40 potential witnesses, either passengers or airport workers who were there at the time of this incident, will come forward and give them information. Also said that they had absolutely no intelligence prior to this incident that Scotland would be attacked in any way. No warning, no way to alert airport authorities in Scotland that there might be an incident.
LONG: Now, we know of one injury to one civilian who rushed to the scene, along with other people there that were witnesses. Apparently some sort of a leg injury. Somebody said earlier possibly a broken leg.
And we cannot forget the people that are still on the tarmac. We do not know exactly how many planes, but the Strathclyde police officer there, William Rae, telling us that as a security precaution they have decided to keep some of the passengers on the tarmac in planes.
ROESGEN: Five hours.
LONG: Actually, I think that might be going on six hours at this point, yes.
ROESGEN: A long time for that.
Something else interesting to come out of that was that they are really seeking out the minority communities in Scotland. Again, the ethnicity of these two suspects believed to be Asian. So the Scottish police are talking to minority communities there. They say that the minority communities have been working with the police, and they are urging people not to take any retaliation on those communities.
We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LONG: If you are just joining us, want to make sure you're up to date on a developing story. Another apparent terror attempt in the U.K. as Scotland yard investigates this closed-circuit television. They're trying to find suspects in yesterday's failed car bombings in London.
ROESGEN: And then, of course, today's incident at the Glasgow, Scotland, airport. The British police say they do believe these incidents are related. Clearly similarities between the failed car bomb plot in London and this burning SUV at the airport in Glasgow, which fortunately did not hurt anybody there.
Two suspects arrested at the scene. One we've just learned did not die of his injuries. He is still alive with severe burns in the hospital.
Again, this incident today is linked to the foiled car bomb plot in London on Friday.
LONG: Now, the apparent terrorist attacks in Great Britain have really renewed the public concern about Muslim extremists. The British government is trying to use terrorism laws in order to fight such extremism, yet the movement survives.
CNN's Special Investigations Unit, SIU, is taking a closer look at "The War Within". Here's Christine Amanpour now with a preview.
ANJEM CHOUDARY, ISLAMIC ACTIVIST: One day you will conquer Rome.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Allahu Akbar!
CHOUDARY: One day -- one day -- one day you will conquer the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Allahu Akbar!
CHRISTINE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Anjem Choudary is the public face of Islamic extremism in Britain. His group, Al Muhajiroun, disbanded before the British government could outlaw it under its new anti-terrorism rules. But that hasn't shut Choudary up.
CHOUDARY: Who are thyself, Islam or (INAUDIBLE) the Prophet Mohammed. (INAUDIBLE) deserves capital punishment.
AMANPOUR: That was Choudary's inflammatory rhetoric just days after Pope Benedict's controversial speech about Islam.
CHOUDARY: Pope Benedict, you will pay!
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Pope Benedict, you will pay!
CHOUDARY: The Mujahideen are on their way! UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: The Mujahideen are on their way!
AMANPOUR: Outside Westminster Cathedral, British Catholics looked on in disbelief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can stand outside our church and abuse us, and abuse our religion, and abuse people that we hold dear, without impunity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The simple question to the Christians is, do you condemn what the pope said?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't condemn...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you condemn the pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he said...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you don't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you condemn the pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If any of us was to amble up to, you know, the mosque at Regents Park, and saying anything about Allah or Mohammed or what have you, the best case scenario, we'd be taken away by the police for inciting racial hatred. The worst case scenario, attacked by a bunch of thugs wearing tea towels on their heads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democracy hypocrisy!
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Democracy hypocrisy!
AMANPOUR: Even away from the bully pulpit, Choudary, who is a lawyer, not a cleric, continues to advocate extremist views, like calling for Shariah, Islamic law for Britain.
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