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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Terror Attack in Scotland; Southwest Flooding
Aired June 30, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MELISSA LONG, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: And this story, this SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT special comes at a most appropriate time, considering the news yesterday, and then the - I can't call it a bombing - the explosion at the Glasgow airport today.
SUSAN ROESGEN, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Certainly, what we're talking about is extremists within the British society, something that Christiane Amanpour really delves into in this special. So, something very pertinent today.
LONG: And we continue to cover this major story. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now.
British authorities say the car fire at Glasgow's airport is linked to the car bombs that were diffused in London on Friday. Both apparently failed terrorist attacks that have raised the terror threat level in Great Britain as high as it can go.
And we want you to take a look at some live pictures from U.S. airports all around the country. This is LAX. It's 2:00 in the afternoon there. If you're traveling this weekend, you will probably see more security - a ripple effect across the ocean.
Hello, I'm Melissa Long. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ROESGEN: And I'm Susan Roesgen. We're both filling in this evening for Rick Sanchez.
Within the past few hours, the British government has raised its terror alert level, as we said, to critical after today's apparent terrorist attack, an attempted attack, on the international airport in Glasgow - an airport which, by the way, sees eight million passengers a year.
That flaming Jeep Cherokee crashed into the terminal building near the checkout area. Later, the police were able to arrest the two suspects and then a device - some sort of explosive device - was found on the body of one of the suspects, who has been badly burned and is in the hospital there in Glasgow, forcing British officials to evacuate part of the hospital.
Now, authorities say that Glasgow incident is linked to Friday's discovery of two explosives-laden vehicles in London.
This critical designation of the terror alert level in Britain is, in a tier of five, it is the most highest level. And again, that warning possibly that there could be other terror attacks. The officials there are asking the public to be vigilant.
In response, Michael Chertoff, the head of the Homeland Security Department in the U.S. says that we will see increased security at our airports nationwide as we head into the Fourth of July holiday, although the threat level itself will not be raised in this country.
We have a full staff of reporters, both domestic and international, who are pushing this story ahead for you. We are reporting from American airports to the nation's capital. And we are also traveling with President Bush on his vacation in Kennebunkport.
LONG: We're going to begin, though, with our live coverage in London with Paula Newton, our international security correspondent - Paula.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, LONDON: And hello to you again. William Rae there from Scotland confirming what CNN reported about this being linked to those two bombs in London earlier, all of it being linked, they believe, and then confirming that the cars did, indeed, have flammable materials in them.
We certainly have to point out that CNN was reporting that one of the suspects had died. We are now going back to our sources to see what other information we can garner for that.
Specific attention, though - I want to be able to draw the viewers' attention to the fact that the constable said that in the vehicle itself, that remains at the airport, he could not rule out the possibility that there was another suspect in that vehicle. And that's what police are investigating right now.
We are taking the police at their word in terms of the update that they have given us. And they had said that that suspect in hospital remains - is suffering from severe burns and remains in critical condition.
Again, what's very puzzling of this investigation, very strange for the constable to come out and say that this vehicle remains at the airport, and that he cannot rule out the possibility that there is another suspect - or there was, pardon me - another suspect in that vehicle. And they will continue to try and get more information to us on that. We will continue to work our sources.
We do not expect, though, any more formal press conferences from the Scottish police for this evening.
LONG: Now, while that vehicle remains at the airport, we should point out, as well, there are an unknown number of passengers also at the airport on the tarmac in some planes.
Do we have an update on exactly how many planes there are, how many passengers there could be?
NEWTON: I don't have an update right now. I can say it's most likely in the hundreds. They are trying to get those people, obviously, off to hotels and off to places to stay.
As you were commenting before, depending on the nature of the airlines going through there, some of them are charter airlines. They don't have a very extensive operation, and they will need to try and find facilities for all of these people.
Obviously, a very chaotic situation in Glasgow at the spur of the moment to have to try and accommodate all those passengers. And as you can imagine, this is a very busy travel season right now that's underway.
LONG: Paula Newton in London for us. Paula, thank you.
Now, we will be advancing this story throughout the weekend. At the bottom of the hour, we'll be seeking the expertise of Farhana Ali, a London-based observer, on Islamic militants. And we do hope you will stay around for that interview.
ROESGEN: In the meantime, the new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has been on the job just four days, and already his country is in crisis.
He spoke to the British people after an emergency meeting with his security team.
(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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROESGEN: Here in the U.S., President Bush is following this story from his family's estate in Kennebunkport, Maine. He's there this weekend, and Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is expected to meet him there tomorrow.
CNN's Ed Henry is live for us now in Kennebunkport - Ed. ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT, KENNEBUNKPORT, MAINE: Good evening, Susan. That's right.
The president has been getting briefings on the situation - both situations, really - in London, as well as Glasgow, throughout the day, even while he was biking. Also had a boat ride and some fishing.
A senior U.S. official here saying that, at this point, the United States is not overly concerned about what they're seeing. Of course, they're monitoring it. Of course, they want to make sure they stay on top of it.
But this official said, these incidents - both in Glasgow and London - were, "not professional," that while there may eventually be an al Qaeda connection, there could eventually be some other entity connected to this, at this point they do not see such a tie. They don't see some sort of a mastermind plan.
The U.S. also thankful that at this point there have been no civilian casualties at all. And this official adding, quote, it looks like amateur hour, that they were not sophisticated attacks. And this official also saying, quote, this is clearly not 9/11, 9/11 style attacks.
That's why the U.S. so far has not followed Gordon Brown's decision in Britain to raise the national threat level, U.S. officials saying they do not have specific, credible threats against the United States at this point. That's why they're not raising the threat level nationally.
And that's also why, perhaps, the president has not called Gordon Brown yet. One senior U.S. official saying the White House's concern, that would only elevate the situation, make it seem more grim if these two leaders were conferring, that maybe there was a lot more going on. Instead, they're letting it go on at lower levels, U.S. and British authorities cooperating in all of these incidents, trying to get to the bottom of all of it.
And that's also why the White House is trying to move ahead, let the president get some downtime, while still keeping him in the loop, but not dramatizing this situation more than it needs to be done, Susan.
ROESGEN: Well, that's interesting, Ed, because certainly, it is considered a very grim situation in Great Britain.
Are you hearing any dissenting voices there, anyone who says that the president should ramp it up, he should speak to the prime minister, he should be more engaged in this?
HENRY: Well, certainly, the White House realizes that the situation is more serious on the ground in Britain, obviously. That's where the incidents have been.
And there certainly have been conversations among White House officials as to whether or not the president should say something about this, whether or not the president should reach out to Gordon Brown.
But again, at this point, they do not see a specific credible threat to the United States homeland, so they don't really see the need to escalate the situation.
They have already sent the signal directly to Gordon Brown through his staff from U.S. officials very close to President Bush, that he will get all he needs from U.S. officials, that they are willing to help Gordon Brown, just as they would have helped the former British prime minister, Tony Blair.
So, they're certainly not trying to downplay the situation or make it seem like it's not a big deal. But the U.S. officials also don't want to overly concern people in the United States or in Britain. They don't want to make people overly concerned or make it seem like it's grimmer than it is.
They are obviously watching very closely these incidents. But U.S. officials so far have seen no specific, credible threats that the U.S. homeland is under threat - Susan.
ROESGEN: OK, Ed. We'll check back in with you later. Thanks so much.
Joining us now on the telephone from Reno, Nevada, is the former acting director of the CIA, John McLaughlin. He is CNN's national security analyst.
John, we've just heard Ed Henry say that a senior White House officials says this was amateur hour, what happened in Great Britain. This was not professional. We should not be too concerned about that.
Do you agree?
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, RENO, NEVADA (by phone): I think the details, Susan, are a little too sketchy in terms of what we have available publicly to make a firm judgment like that.
There are amateurish aspects to the plots that we've seen here - mainly, that they didn't succeed. But on the other hand, if you're in Great Britain, I think you have to start from the assumption, given recent history, that this could be al Qaeda-inspired, at least. And if we look at the last couple of plots that have been disrupted, they have indeed been connected to the al Qaeda leadership in that Pakistan-Afghan border area.
Now, we don't know enough about these attacks yet to say that with any degree of confidence. But if you're in Britain, that's probably going to be your working hypothesis. That's the thing you're going to try prove or disprove at this point.
There are a number of reasons for that. As I say, the last two attacks disrupted in Britain had those kinds of connections. They were more professional than this one, to be sure.
This type of attack - that is, a car bomb loaded with propane or gasoline, or something like that - is, as some other commentators have noted, a technique that was recommended by a fellow named Dhiren Barot, or Eissa al-Hindi, who is now in prison in the U.K., who was an al Qaeda operative, and who was taken into custody in 2004, late 2004. So, those earmarks are there.
But whether it's al Qaeda-related or not doesn't diminish for Britain the fact that they have a serious internal problem.
To some degree, we worry more about external threats migrating to the United States. Their problem really is internal in many respects. They have a large, alienated Muslim population.
The head of their internal spy service, MI-5, has given public speeches, saying that they have more than 20 plots under investigation and something like 1,200 to 1,500 individuals who are suspect of being extremists.
So, they're spread very thin in trying to combat this sort of thing. And I can tell you with great assurance that in Britain this is all taken very seriously.
ROESGEN: John, what can you tell us in terms of evidence here? We've been looking at this burning car and the two other cars where explosives were found.
In the burning car at the airport, we just heard the constable there in Scotland say it's too hot to get close to right now, we're concerned about it.
What kind of evidence can they find? Can they find things like VIN numbers, vehicle identification numbers? Can they find things after the evidence seems to be just about destroyed?
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. There'll be a lot of forensic evidence here - VIN numbers, if there are license plates that survive, perhaps fingerprints, if the car is not totally destroyed, particularly on things like trunks and hubcaps and parts of the car, maybe the hood where someone might have checked the oil - that kind of thing.
They will be able to find also, probably some kind of DNA evidence, if they're lucky, perhaps some hair. But again, the fire will destroy a lot of that.
All that said, there are few police services in the world who have the sophistication of the British, because of their long struggle with the IRA - the Irish insurgent group, that is now quiescent, thankfully.
MCLAUGHLIN: But they have extraordinary experience dealing with forensics in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. So, I have pretty high confidence that they'll wring something out of this.
You know, in the recent attacks, they've been quite brilliant in the way that they've ... ROESGEN: OK. All right. John McLaughlin, CNN's national security analyst, thank you for joining us this afternoon.
MCLAUGHLIN: You bet. Thank you, Susan.
LONG: Had to wrap up that interview. Wanted to check in with CNN's Paula Newton. She's live from London with some breaking news - Paula.
Paula? Apparently, not - OK. All right.
We'll check in with Paula as soon as she does have the breaking news information that we did want to share with you.
Our special coverage of the effect of the terror threat around the world will continue just after the break with Jim Acosta, who will be live at LaGuardia International.
LONG: It is 10:17 in the evening in London and at Glasgow International Airport. The images you were just looking at were of an SUV that was on fire that careened into the terminal - terminal one there - at Glasgow's very busy international airport. Some 8.8 million people travel in and out of that airport every year.
This is a developing story we're following, and CNN's Paula Newton joins us now live from London with some breaking news - Paula.
NEWTON: And developing, it is.
As we have been reporting, we have been reporting here at CNN that one of the suspects is dead. Sources close to the investigation say that is, indeed, the fact.
What they do say, though, is that right now, that Jeep that we have seen remains at the airport, and it will continue to be checked. And sources tell us that one suspect is - the body of a suspect - is in that vehicle. And that is a suspect that they say has passed away during this event.
So, to clarify, police were unwilling to confirm that, but CNN has that from sources close to the investigation, that there are three suspects - one who has died in the vehicle, one is in critical condition in hospital, and one remains detained with police.
Again, police in Scotland will not confirm this for us, but it does lend a little bit of explanation to some of those eyewitness accounts that we had - if they can be believed - of one of the suspects frantically trying to open the back of the Cherokee.
In terms of him wanting - in terms of having a bigger detonation, he wouldn't want to do that. It puts him in the line of fire, and it certainly doesn't allow whatever is combustible in there to have the energy that it needs to have.
That could explain - and I'm speculating - as to why eyewitnesses saw that suspect opening the back end of that Jeep Cherokee.
Again, sources close to the investigation saying one suspect is dead, it just is not the suspect in the hospital, that there is a body in the Jeep Cherokee at the airport.
LONG: Paula Newton, live from London, confirming, therefore, three known suspects - again, one dead inside the vehicle, one in critical condition at the hospital and the other in police custody.
Paula, thank you.
Now, the incidents in both England and Scotland really creating a ripple effect on security measures in the U.S.
CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now live from New York's LaGuardia airport, with the situation there. Hi, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LAGUARDIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, NEW YORK: Hi, Susan, yes.
And as we've been reporting throughout the afternoon, it's pretty much another day at the airport here at LaGuardia airport, here in New York City. A small, but measurable change in terms of the police presence.
You can see behind me that there is this port authority vehicle behind us. But behind that vehicle, there are, you know, several cars lined up, dropping off passengers for folks who are heading off on their Fourth of July vacations, long holiday weekends. This is the sort of thing you see all of the time at LaGuardia.
And it seems sort of shocking, perhaps, after everything that we've seen in Scotland today with that car pulling right into the terminal and blowing up, catching fire, that you would see - basically, this is what you're going to see at just about every American airport - cars pulling up right in front of the terminal to drop people off with their departing flights.
And in fact, in front of those arrival pickup points, you'll see people coming right out of the airport, hopping into cars right outside the front doors of those terminals.
As we said, we did see somewhat of a police presence earlier in the day. We did see one of the New York Police Department's Hercules units as it pulled into the airport here, the terminal here at LaGuardia earlier today.
It was one of these police sweeping forces that you'll see throughout Manhattan from time to time. You'll see a dozen or so police cruisers with their sirens blaring and racing about the city, going from place to place.
Essentially, it's a counterterrorism measure, to show people in New York that there is still a police presence, a heightened police presence, that is on the lookout for whatever, you know, may happen. And we talked to one of the officers with that unit. And he said, yes, in fact, we were diverted over to LaGuardia airport, because of the heightened security measures that are being put in place at airports across the country.
So, it is sort of another garden variety travel day in the summer in the United States in terms of what we're seeing here at LaGuardia airport, but a small but measurable change in the police presence - Susan.
ROESGEN: OK. Jim Acosta reporting live for us at LaGuardia. Thank you, Jim.
And ahead in the NEWSROOM we'll have much more on what's happened today in Glasgow. We'll have more expert analysis, and we'll check again on how this may continue to affect airport security in the U.S.
LONG: Plus, some of the other news happening today.
Already flooded after heavy rains, parts of Missouri may get another dose of severe weather.
Karen McGinnis is in the CNN weather center.
KAREN MCGINNIS, METEOROLOGIST, CNN WEATHER CENTER: We're watching tornados breaking out across southwestern Missouri. We'll show you the radar and where they're located, right after this.
LONG: It is a busy Saturday here in the CNN NEWSROOM. We're trying to figure out how U.K. authorities will be connecting the dots between yesterday's failed car bombings in London and today's incident in Glasgow.
Let's get to John Pike from GlobalSecurity.org. He's live at the Washington, D.C., bureau to offer some insight.
Thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.
JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG, WASHINGTON, D.C.: Thank you.
LONG: Well, let's talk about the latest development. We just heard that there were, in fact, three individuals in that SUV that careened into the terminal.
When you heard that news, what was your immediate thought?
PIKE: Well, I think I'm sharing President Bush's puzzlement as to exactly what the plan was here.
But I think it's beginning to come into focus, that if you had three people in the vehicle, that if you had gasoline, but no other explosives, maybe the plan was they were going to drive up to the security barrier and dump out all this gasoline all over the place and set it on fire. It is sort of out of pattern here, a little difficult to connect the dots, that we have one vehicle today with three people in it, yesterday two vehicles with no people in it.
What you really have to wonder is what we're going to see tomorrow and the next day.
LONG: I can sense your skepticism. And at the same time, you would hear different eyewitness accounts of people saying that there were small explosions coming from that car.
We do not know, in fact, that there was nothing else within that SUV.
PIKE: Well, this is the puzzlement, of course, that we are getting conflicting reports.
What we did not see, though, is the sort of really large explosion that you would have seen from those two car bombs the way that they were built yesterday. So, it's not exactly the same sort of explosive device that we were seeing yesterday.
LONG: So, at the same time, though, authorities are saying the two are, in fact, linked. But you're saying they seem to be totally different in their nature.
PIKE: Well, they're physically different.
But you think, for them to be taking place this close to each other, you would have to believe that they would be linked, and you would have to be concerned that the people who put together the car bombs yesterday, I don't necessarily assume were in this vehicle today, that you're going to have additional conspirators who are at large, the possibility of additional attacks that would also be different from these two, in the next - in the days ahead.
LONG: Now, we do have information stating today that the two Mercedes, the sedans, were in fact traced back to Glasgow. What do you think about that?
PIKE: Well, that would suggest the possibility, at least, that we've got one and the same plot here.
But again, I think that it's interesting that we have not had any additional arrests yet, and that the authorities are not telling us an awful lot about what they had or had not learned from the car bombs yesterday.
LONG: Prior to the incident today at Glasgow, there were some that said the two thwarted bombings in London had the markings of al Qaeda. Do you think that?
PIKE: Well, it's difficult to say.
Certainly, we had previous thwarted attempts in which there had been plans to use propane tanks and plans to attack these public facilities. We've seen public facility attacks, restaurant and disco attacks, in a number of other countries. And so, this would be within this larger pattern of al Qaeda.
Of course, what direct physical connection these individuals, these attacks would have to Osama bin Laden is a completely different question.
LONG: John Pike from GlobalSecurity.org from our Washington bureau. John, thank you.
PIKE: Thank you.
LONG: And this weekend, we do hope you will join us tonight for a CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT on the heels of Glasgow and a potentially deadly plot in the heart of London. CNN's Christiane Amanpour uncovers terrorists' surprising new breeding ground, where young British Muslims are being indoctrinated into extremism - a report only CNN could bring you. "The War Within," tonight and tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Eastern.
ROESGEN: While we've been focused on the situation today in Britain, people in Oklahoma are focusing on flooding. They've got lakes in their front yards - a dire situation after days of heavy rain.
Many Oklahoma highways are closed because of flood damage, and rising waters have forced hundreds of people out of their homes. And it looks like they aren't going to get a break. Heavy rain is in the forecast for the next couple of days.
So, let's check in now with Karen McGinnis in the weather center - Karen.
ROESGEN: OK, Karen, those people really can't get a break.
You are in the right place for up to the minute weather coverage and coverage of the terror threat in Great Britain.
LONG: The latest information coming up just after the break.
Plus a terrorism expert answering lingering questions about possible ties to al Qaeda or other radical networks. You're watching CNN.
LONG: We are keeping you informed and checking on the latest developments. Here's what we know -- one of the suspects arrested after ramming an SUV into a Glasgow airport terminal has been hospitalized with severe burns. Another is in custody.
And then CNN has learned a third is dead. Still in that vehicle. Today's attack at Scotland's largest airport is linked to two failed car bombings in London yesterday. Both of the vehicles were traced to Glasgow.
And Great Britain has raised its terror alert level to critical. It is the highest level. There's heightened vigilance in the U.S. But no increase in the national threat alert status.
The attacks in Great Britain have authorities beefing up security in the U.S. Joining us now from Washington, CNN's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi. CNN's Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff issued a statement saying that the U.S. does not have any specific credible intelligence indicating any sort of link between today's events in Scotland and any threats of the homeland, there is no intention to raise the terror threat level here in the United States. But, they are beefing up security as a deterrent out of an abundance of caution, they say, around airports, mass transit and other transportation officials, Secretary Chertoff saying some of this will be visible and some of it will not.
We have spoken to some transportation officials who explain that there's been contact between the federal government today, airports, airlines and law enforcement. They've been provided with a menu, as it were, of possible options they can take to beef up security, things like increasing vehicle inspections, having more canines patrolling for explosives, doing more behavioral profiling of people in airports. And it will be up to the individual airports in conjunction with their security and local law enforcement to decide exactly what pieces of the menu they will choose to institute at their airport.
You probably are going to see more measures taken at big airports than at little ones around the country. I should say that although the United States has been a threat level yellow for some time, aviation was elevated to orange last year when there was a plot to blow up airliners with liquid explosives. It remains on orange and now airport officials describe this as enhanced orange or orange-plus, probably not much different from what you're seeing now, but a little bit more intense, perhaps a little bit more visible.
Travelers are being urged to allow some extra time for their travel, but Secretary Chertoff saying, be vigilant, report anything suspicious that you see, but go about your business and enjoy the July Fourth holiday. Back to you.
LONG: CNN's Jeanne Meserve. Jeanne, thank you.
MESERVE: You bet.
ROESGEN: Well, speaking of the nation's airports, our Lisa Goddard is live at Reagan National Airport just outside DC, where Lisa, you said you've seen a difference in the reaction to what's happened today from international passengers as opposed to domestic passengers.
LISA GODDARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Melissa. Domestic passengers seem very secure about where they're going. But I think because these events have been international and because passengers here don't necessarily know about security precautions around the world they are notably more nervous. Those passengers who are going overseas.
Now we will say we confirmed with the chief of police for this airport and also for Dulles Airport which is about 30 miles away that they have increased security in the last hour. We have seen an officer on that two-wheeled Segway patrolling the line where cars come in.
We're going to show you what other precautions they have there. Specifically they have these barriers made of metal that are about two feet apart from one another. Enforcement officers here say those would stop a car from getting into the airport proper. They say that is tight security. Most people walking around the airport say they do feel secure seeing that. We're going to show you what the airport looks like right now.
If you look behind me it is a very quiet Saturday evening here in Washington. A few people trickling in. You see a lot of sandals, a lot of sun dresses, people here getting ready to go on vacation.
We talked to a number of passengers earlier. And the truth is most of them are cautious, but mostly they're eager to get on their flights. Let's listen.
Those passengers, it was interesting, said a couple of things. One family actually had been stuck here since this morning waiting to get on a flight, a layover actually to Syracuse. They said that their main problem was typical delays. They had a delay of almost 12 hours. They said if they had to pick which city they'd be in for that delay, it would not be Washington, DC today. They were nervous being in the capital on a day when the world was seeing very clear threats. Melissa?
ROESGEN: All right, thank you so much, CNN's Lisa Goddard at Ronald Reagan National. Thank you so much.
Now the very latest of what we do know about the Glasgow terror attack coming up in the NEWSROOM, plus a live report from London where several high-profile events are taking place this coming week and weekend. This is CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We saw the flames like coming out. And there was a lot of police and like ambulance like round people so we couldn't see any people that were there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LONG: More terror attacks overseas and incidents overseas. Here's what we know right now -- Great Britain has raised its security alert to the highest level after an SUV slammed into the terminal door at the international airport in Glasgow. Now police believe this incident is linked to two failed car bombings in London on Friday. A manhunt for suspects is under way in London.
U.S. is beefing up security at U.S. airports as quote, "a deterrent" against potential terror attacks. Officials stressing there is no specific security threat. In the U.S. they are not raising the overall threat level.
ROESGEN: And in Glasgow witnesses have said the suspects appeared to be Asian and there were reports that they were British citizens but so far we haven't been able to confirm that. Joining us from Washington with some analysis is Fahrana Ali of the Rand Corporation, she is an expert on global terrorism and things of that nature.
Fahrana, do you think that there is some sort of Indonesian link here, if these were Asians?
FAHRANA ALI, RAND CORPORATION: Yeah, when the word "Asian" is used, particularly in the U.K. context it is really a reference to Pakistani Americans -- excuse me, to those of Pakistani descent. And we've seen in previous attacks foiled plots in the U.K., those who have been convicted, who even have perpetrated attacks have been of Pakistani descent. In fact there have been individuals who that links to Pakistan who have either visited the country or who are from that ethnic cultural identity.
So I don't see an Indonesian link. The only Indonesian link one could draw is the use of suicide or car bombs which was used effectively in the 2002 Bali attacks.
ROESGEN: How much is Pakistan or Pakistani extremists supporting what we are calling home-grown terrorists in England?
ALI: Difficult to say right now. Although you can just by looking at the terrorist landscape in Pakistan, there's always been this anti-U.S. and anti-Western -- I would even include anti-U.K. sentiment from the jihadi groups within Pakistan, primarily because of the war in Iraq, because of the U.S. and the U.K.'s involvement in the war in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan. So I would imagine that there would be very supportive, as if these attacks in Scotland and the U.K. had been successfully perpetrated.
ROESGEN: We just heard from someone in Scotland angry about this. About this -- these seemingly faceless, nameless people who put the whole country on alert. What's the answer? What sorts of things could Great Britain be doing to try to stamp this out? Can they stamp it out?
ALI: I would certainly echo the sentiment of that individual. This is what's called the invisible face of terrorism, or invisible face of violent jihad. And I look at efforts on two fronts. One, I think that there can be a much more robust kind of terrorism effort on the part of U.K. authorities. Now granted, they've done a great deal and have improved their counterterrorism capabilities, but having said that, it's kind of paradoxical because while they've improved their capabilities they also realize that the problem is still enormous and the challenges still exist and the problems are enormous. So on the technical side you can probably import other surveillance and other intelligence aspects, but what's important here is the second component, which is the human element. And in this case, and in other disrupted plots, I think that's played a key role. The tip-off that comes from the public. The public observation is key here. The public is really the eyes and ears of the community, and to involve even greater cooperation from the religious communities, religious ethnic minority communities is going to be essential.
ROESGEN: OK. Fahrana Ali, Thank you so much for your insight there in Washington.
ALI: Thank you.
LONG: This weekend on CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT on the heels of Glasgow, a deadly plot in the heart of London, CNN's Christiane Amanpour is uncovering a terrorist surprising new breeding ground where young British Muslims are being indoctrinated into extremism. A report only CNN could bring you, "The War Within," tonight and tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Our extensive coverage of the terror threats in England rolls on right after this. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
LONG: Pictures of passengers evacuating the Glasgow International Airport seven hours ago now. A suspicious device has been found on one of the surviving suspects that's being cared for at a hospital in Scotland. Now passengers have been stuck on the tarmac at that airport. A lot of elements to this story.
Let's go live now to ITV's Louise White in Glasgow.
LOUISE WHITE, ITV CORRESPONDENT: Melissa, good evening. The very latest I can tell you is that we are getting reports there is in fact a body inside the vehicle of the car that was rammed into Glasgow Airport at 11 minutes past 3:00 this afternoon. For obvious reasons, operational reasons, police are reluctant to expand on that latest information.
The chief constable of Strathclyde (ph) police has described this terrorist attack as a horrendous criminal act. Now this is Scotland's first terrorist attack since Lockerbie, since the bomb blew up over that small border town on December 21st, 1988. And today is a very dark day for Scotland. Scots are not used to this sort of attack.
London, yes, it has come to become part of life down in London. As you probably know there have been at least two incidents in the capital in the last 48 hours. And police in Scotland are confirming this latest incident here at the airport today is linked to those incidents in London.
And in fact, special branch (ph) officers, anti-terrorist officers are making their way up from London as I speak from SL-15 (ph) branch to interrogate the two individuals who they did manage to apprehend as they tried to flee from the vehicle. Now one of them was on fire. Those flames were extinguished. He is now in local hospital obviously under armed guard.
The other man who was also apprehended by police has been taken to a high-security police station in Glasgow.
LONG: Louise White from Glasgow. Louise, thank you.
ROESGEN: And we have this news just in to CNN, we are understanding that there has been a small plane crash in Conway, Arkansas. That's about an hour away from Little Rock. You are looking at a live picture from our Little Rock affiliate KATV. A small plane crash with apparently two fatalities. There you see the house, this plane crashed into a house, in a residential neighborhood. A woman inside the house was killed and the pilot of the plane was killed as well. We don't know yet if there are any more fatalities.
At about 3:00 Central Time, a plane crash in Conway, Arkansas. About an hour away from little rock. Again, one person in the house dead and the pilot of the plane dead as well. We'll give you more information as we get it.
LONG: Now these terror scares in Britain come almost two years after London's 7/7 attacks. And the city is definitely an attractive terrorist target. But it is also better defended than many big cities. We'll give you a security reality check ahead in the NEWSROOM.
ROESGEN: On the phone with us now is John O'Connor, he is the former commander of Scotland Yard and he is well versed with what the authorities in the United Kingdom are doing right now. Mr. O'Connor, thanks for joining us. What do you make of what you've heard from the constable's news conference earlier and all the information as we're getting it?
JOHN O'CONNOR, FORMER SCOTLAND YARD DETECTIVE (on phone): Well, I think there is a couple of major issues here. First of all, the fact that the U.K. has now put its terror threats up to the highest level. Normally that only occurs when the police or security services have hard information that there is about to be a terrorist attack.
I suspect they don't have that, but I think what they're doing is making an inspired judgment that because of what's happened, one attack in Scotland or one attempted attack in Scotland and two down in London in Mayfair, it's likely -- I think that's almost a given that there is going to be others that are out there.
This is the start, I believe, of a concentrated terrorist attack by the -- some of the dissidents, groups, that we've got that are in support of al Qaeda. I think we've got to take it seriously and it is absolutely right that the U.K. authorities have put this on to the highest threat level. ROESGEN: Now, it's been a couple of years since the 7/7, the attack on the subway system. Why do you believe this is the start of a series? Why do you think that this weekend won't sort of be the end of this latest round?
O'CONNOR: Well, I think if you just go back logistically to an assessment that our security services made, which was probably about 12 months after the 7th of July attacks, they said that they believe there were in excess of 1,000 people that were -- had the propensity to carry out terrorist attacks in the U.K. on behalf, or under the umbrella, of al Qaeda. That's an awful lot of people. Now those are the ones that are on the radar.
We don't know below that how many others that are supporters what we'd call clean skins, people that haven't even appeared above the radar. So I think it is quite right to make the assumption that with the determination that we've seen by some of these people that are prepared to lay down their lives, particularly the two guys on the attack on Glasgow Airport, I think it is the right assumption that there are others that would see the time to be right now for them to strike.
Because the one thing that these people don't ever want to do is to keep failing. Now they've had two failures down in London where, quite clearly, the detonators didn't work. And it might be the precursor explosives that were used weren't compatible with the kind of detonator they were using, which we believe was a mobile phone completing the circuit.
So you can actually activate the device by just making a phone call to that mobile phone with an amplifier on the phone. That then hotwires the filament of a light bulb. That then should glow red, and detonate the precursor explosive, which then detonates all the junk that's in the car, the petrol, propane, nails, and all the other debris that's there.
That clearly didn't happen. They've got a fault in what they've done. I suspect it's probably the same bomb maker and the same fault was inherent in all three devices including the one today. It would appear that it didn't go off as an explosive device, it went off as an ignitory (ph) device.
So what they've done, they've set fire to it but it didn't actually detonate. And quite clearly in that vehicle, in that Cherokee, quite clearly there are propane cylinders that are not going to be detonated necessarily just by intense heat. It does need an explosion to get them detonated properly.
ROESGEN: OK. An interesting perspective from John O'Connor, former commander of Scotland Yard, that with two failed attempts, the terrorists won't give up until they get one that's successful. Thank you
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