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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Following Glasgow Car Bombing Britain Raises Terror Alert To Highest Level; U.S. Airports, TSA, Step Up Security Today, Especially Going Into Holiday Weekend
Aired June 30, 2007 - 18:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: ... 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 for joining us.
CNN NEWSROOM starts right now, the next hour.
LONG: If you're just turning on the television, this is what we know on the terror threat in the UK. Authorities are preparing for another possible terrorist incident there. The British government has raised the U.K. terror threat level to critical. It's the highest designation.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: This comes of course after this apparent terrorist attempt at Glasgow International Airport in Scotland. A Jeep Cherokee slamming into the terminal, bursting into flames. One suspect in custody, another severely burned in the hospital, and a third dead, the body still in the vehicle.
One suspect, the one who was severely burned, was also told -- by us -- by the constable, there to have had some sort of explosive device on his body in the hospital.
LONG: And British authorities say the Glasgow attack is in fact related to yesterday's failed car bombings in London. Let's get the very latest from CNN's Robin Oakley, who is live for us in London.
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN SR. INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: This is certainly now seen as a major threat to Britain's security. Sir John Stevens, now Lord Stevens, the former commissioner of the metropolitan police who has been appointed by the new prime minister Gordon Brown as his international security adviser, says that the car bombs in London showed that Al Qaeda's methods, as used in Iraq and Indonesia, are now being imported to London.
He talked of an informal network of cells, in Britain, posing a new level of threat to the country. And Gordon Brown is certainly being severely tested in his first days as prime minister. He has appeared and warned the public to be vigilant, to report everything that they find suspicious to the police. A message that was underlined by the new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
But, Mr. Brown said that he was certain all Britains would be resolute in the face of this threat. And ministers are urging people to continue their lives as normal as far as they can, Melissa.
LONG: Robin, let me ask you about the prime minister again. Just 72, 80 hours now, into his new appointment. We know he's from Scotland, born in Glasgow. Any connections drawn to those facts?
OAKLEY: Well, it may be quite deliberate that there is something -- that there has been a security incident in Scotland, as well as the timing of it, coming immediately after Gordon Brown has become the new prime minister.
It's too early to be certain of any of these things. The police and other security authorities are not speculating too much about method, or the political reasoning behind any timing of these incidents as yet. They're more interested in getting on with the straightforward investigation, and finding the people who are still out there who left those two car bombs in central London, which could have killed and maimed so many people, Melissa.
LONG: You're just outside of 10 Downing Street, 11:00 in the evening in London. You have the heightened terror alert level at critical. What are you seeing on the streets? Are you seeing stepped- up security on the streets wherever you go?
OAKLEY: No, there's no enormously enhanced security. But the level of security already was at critical, which means that it was highly likely that there could be some terrorist incident.
Yes, it is now gone up to severe, which means that the authorities believe another security incident is imminent. But there has been a high level of security in Britain ever since the July 7 bombings, two years ago, particularly here in London, in the capital. But the authorities want to balance that very carefully with allowing people to continue with their normal lives.
This is a very big weekend in London, of celebrations and sporting events. There's the Princess Diana Memorial Concert staged by the two -- her two sons, the princes, at Wembley Stadium this weekend. There's a big gay pride march in London. There's the Wimbledon tennis going on. There are other big sporting events.
And the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has urged people to continue with their normal lives, so far as they can, perhaps allowing a little more time for transport because of some of the inevitable holdups because of security.
Certainly Gordon Brown has said after a meeting of the COBRA Committee, the government's emergencies committee, that it will be right to step up security at airports and in public places. And he's asked for the public's patience in the necessary measures that have to be taken.
But he certainly keeps stressing that he's certain the British public will be resolute in the face of these latest threats, certainly as they have been in the face of past threats, Melissa.
LONG: Robin Oakley outside 10 Downing Street in London. Robin, thank you.
ROESGEN: Well, President Bush has been following the events from his vacation at his family's estate in Kennebunkport, Maine. He will be hosting a two-day summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin there, tomorrow and Ed Henry is covering the president in Kennebunkport -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Susan, you're right. The White House is taking this seriously, as a threat, obviously. They're watching the situation in Britain very closely. And as Robin was reporting, very similar, you hear Homeland Security officials in the United States urging U.S. citizens to be careful, to be cautious, to watch their surroundings.
And also the U.S. government has decided to have the Transportation Security Administration step up some of its security efforts. They have not raised the threat levels either at airlines, or around the United States, but they are saying there will be a more visible police presence outside a lot of major airports in the United States. And they are also, as they are in Britain, U.S. passengers are being urged to get to the airports a little sooner.
But senior U.S. officials are saying that they're not overly concerned about the U.S. homeland right now. That's because they do not, based on the intelligence at this point, have a specific threat -- credible threat against the United States. And, in fact, one senior official told CNN that in looking at the incidents both in Glasgow and London, they were not, in the U.S.'s estimation, professional. That they were amateurish and they were not appearing at this point to be part of a grand plan, necessarily. And that there were not necessarily ties to Al Qaeda or another entity.
Obviously, they're going to follow it closely, but they're saying they're not overly concerned at this point. They don't want to hyperventilate or get the United States -- get Americans across the country overly concerned.
That's also partly why President Bush has not called the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. As you note, he's only been in office for a few days. But in the words of one senior U.S. official, they don't want to escalate the situation just yet. Instead they've been letting it go on at lower levels. U.S. government officials, along with British counterparts, dealing with the situation, trying to figure out and assess all of these various incidents.
And that's why President Bush has been getting various briefings throughout today, even as he was having a bike ride, even as he was out on the boat fishing here, near his family's compound at Walker's Point, Kennebunkport, Maine. He's still getting all these various intelligence briefings to make sure he's on top of the situation, Susan.
ROESGEN: OK, Ed, let's look ahead for just a minute here then. What's on tap for the meeting with President Putin tomorrow? HENRY: It's very interesting. As all of this is swirling around, President Bush has to shift his focus sharply to U.S./Russia relations. As you know, over the last decade or so, there's been a detente. There have been very friendly relations. But all of a sudden in the last few months, there's really been a difficult turn in those relations, specifically over a controversial U.S. plan to build a missile defense system in Europe. President Putin was not very happy with that.
At one point, recently, he threatened to aim nuclear weapons at Europe in retaliation. Now they're trying to hash out the details and work out a plan that will work. But obviously there's been concern about a new cold war between the U.S. and Russia. This two-day mini summit, if you will, on Sunday and Monday, is all about having a casual atmosphere to calm down relations, Susan.
ROESGEN: OK. Thank you, Ed, for that update.
LONG: It is 10 minutes after 6:00, East Coast time, 10 minutes after 11:00 in the U.K. We have, of course, continuing coverage of the thwarted bomb attacks in London yesterday, and today's fiery explosion at the Glasgow International Airport. You're watching CNN.
ROESGEN: Before we get back to the story in Scotland, this is the scene of a plane crash at the Conway, Arkansas, airport. Actually, just past the runway. Conway is about an hour away from Little Rock and this video comes from KATV, our affiliate in Little Rock.
There you can see a burned section that's apparently a house, that the plane overshot the runway, hit the house. A woman inside the house is dead. And the pilot of the plane is dead. We don't know yet if there are any other fatalities.
LONG: A big story we're following today within the last few hours the British government raised its terror alert level to critical after the apparent attack on the international airport in Glasgow, Scotland. That flaming SUV crashing into the terminal building.
And a device was found on one of the suspects while he was in the hospital, that forced officials to briefly evacuate that facility. Now authorities say the Glasgow incident is in fact linked to Friday's discovery of two explosive-laden vehicles in London.
The critical designation is the highest alert level in Britain, and a warning that terror attacks are imminent. In response today, the U.S. is increasing security at airports nationwide ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
ROESGEN: The new British prime minister, of course, has only been on the job for about four days now. He's in a crisis situation, Gordon Brown. And he did give a statement just after an emergency meeting with the security team after the incident at the Glasgow airport. Here's his statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON BROWN, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: I've just come from a meeting with the police and the security services, and 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)
LONG: Now, again today, the U.S. is increasing security at U.S. airports ahead, of course, of the Fourth of July holiday. Let's check in with one of the busiest airports in the U.S., Josh Levs is there at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport -- Josh.
JOSHUA LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi. Let me put this in context for you. As you were saying the world's busiest airport. You and I were talking earlier about the size of the Glasgow airport, with nearly 9 million passengers a year. Here at Hartsfield-Jackson you're talking about 85 million passengers a year going in and out of the airport. Last year we had 100,000 takeoff and landings at this airport, meaning the security is a tremendous concern. World's busiest passenger airport, so the most people going in and out.
What we did today, we came down here to see, how security has changed in the wake of what happened in Glasgow. And what we're finding is at least overtly -- demonstrably what we're seeing -- not tremendously different. We spoke with police, who are not informing us openly about anything being new. However, we also spoke with a representative of the TSA, who told us that there is increased TSA visibility behind me, at curbside.
When you say curbside at Hartsfield-Jackson you're pretty much talking two places, north terminal, where we are, and the south terminal. We looked at both. We do not see some tremendous presence of the TSA, in either place. There are some people but not a stepped- up presence compared to what we used to.
However, the TSA is telling us that those numbers have been increased. We are aware, you know, Melissa, just as a lot of other airports around the country, as we're learning, there is today increased vigilance given what happened. LONG: We are also looking at video, right now, of officials from the airport essentially shooing people. We all know you cannot park all that long at the terminal, whether you're dropping off a loved one, or picking somebody up. The story out of Glasgow today really just hammers home the reason why.
LEVS: Exactly. That's why reason why -- I'm glad you said that, because that's one reason why they don't necessarily need overtly, tremendously, increased presence. The security at Hartsfield-Jackson is already pretty well known to be very strong. You cannot stop a car and leave it behind me, and go inside. That's not allowed.
And since 9/11 the rules have become even more intense. You have to have your car guarded at all times. Even if you're with your car, if you stay for too long, they will kick you out. That's how serious they are. If someone makes a mistake of trying to park at the curbside, it's immediately removed.
Also, there are authorities outside and inside that keep a look at what vehicles do come along, clearly trying to limit the kind of traffic that is seen around here. Even so we are told in the wake of Glasgow, in some ways, they felt the need to take a new step, at the very least, by increasing TSA presence.
LONG: Of course, we have televisions broadcasting inside the airport. CNN is on for people that are waiting for their flight. You have people arriving at the airport who are certainly in the know. They've been watching television throughout the day. Are you noticing any trepidation from those that are getting ready to board a plane?
LEVS: It's interesting. You know, I said world's busiest passenger airport. We wanted to go inside, and talk with some of those passengers, and we did. A lot of the people I talked to were not really aware of the details in Glasgow. You're right. CNN plays in the airport. It also plays once you're through at your gate, ready to go in. That's where a lot of these people are actually learning, right now. Learning about some of the details, about what happened in Glasgow.
Also, we have talked to people that are aware. And they say, you know what, what happened today in Glasgow is not making them more afraid to fly, it's not making them more concerned about their security here, on this side of the pond, over here in the United States.
And they do say, they like to look around and see that there is substantial security that exists, that there are these mechanisms to make sure that certain people cannot go through. Including, they're telling us, the cars. So, in that way, it's true that the presence that does exist here is making some people feel more comfortable.
LONG: CNN's Josh Levs from the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
Josh, thank you.
ROESGEN: Now we'll check in at another very important airport, Reagan National, just outside of D.C. Lisa Goddard is there.
Lisa, I remember before 9/11, you used to get the most beautiful, scenic view of Washington as you would fly into that airport, circling over all the monuments there. It was a beautiful way to go in and see the nation's capitol. Then after 9/11, the flight paths were diverted. You didn't get that great scene anymore. Now we're looking at taking our shoes off, putting our shampoo into little bottles.
What more conceivably could TSA do?
LISA GODDARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Melissa (sic). These, without question, are very serious times here. Interesting you mention the flight path of planes as they come into Washington. On July 4th, the evening of July 4th coming up this week, those flights will still potentially come up the Potomac. I was on a flight just last year, when they renewed that flight plan. It will be interesting to see if they do that this year.
In fact, planes can pass by even as the fireworks are going over the Washington Monument. I saw that last year and it will be very interesting to see if what happened in Great Britain affects those flight paths, especially over Washington this year.
Meanwhile, otherwise, I have to say here at Washington National Airport it's very quiet. We have seen three -- what seem to be minor increases in security, only visible. There may be more increases that we don't see, those three being an increase in foot patrols. We've seen more officers, especially airport police, walking around. We've also seen second -- them seeming to use that menu of options that Department of Homeland Security is recommending. Jeanne Meserve has been reporting that.
We've seen things like officers on Segway, two-wheelers, being particularly vigilant about the drop-off point, which is really just a few feet away from me. Those officers not only by themselves, but we'll show you some pictures of another barrier they have to help them. These are metal barriers; they're just two feet apart. Officials here say that is what would stop what happened in Glasgow from happening here.
Of course, that's never been tested to that degree. But they do say they have confidence in that system. And now we're turning back to the airport. You can see it's very quiet.
And really that third level that we've seen that there's any increase, there's a canine unit here now. That's not something you would usually see at Washington national airport. Passengers are noticing the changes. By now it seems many passengers are aware of what happened in Scotland. Some still are learning. But we talked to a few passengers about their reaction. In truth, Melissa, most of them say they still want to get on their flight, but they're also eager to land. Let's take a listen to what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it changes how we approach the flight. I just want to get there. At this point, we've been here -- we're going to be here 10 hours, and I really don't like being in this airport knowing what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel pretty confident of the airline security here and what's going on in the United States. And I'm heading towards the West Coast. And I feel OK about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GODDARD: And returning now, you know, it's interesting, Tammy Alexander, who you just heard from, she said she's fine to fly home to Portland flying west. But Monday morning she has a planned trip to Italy, and she says she's a lot more nervous about that. But right now she's not canceling. She's going ahead -- Melissa.
LONG: All right, CNN's Lisa Goddard at the airport. Thank you so much, Lisa.
Of course, we are continuing to follow the latest developments out of Glasgow, out of London. On just the first few days in office, the prime minister, Gordon Brown, has some awesome challenges, in addition to severe flooding in his country, we have terrorist threats and this explosion today at the busy Glasgow airport in Scotland.
We're continuing to follow this developing story and breaking news story tonight. This is CNN.
LONG: Let's bring you up to date on tonight's developing story out of England. The British government has raised its terror alert level to critical after today's apparent terror attack on the international airport in Glasgow; a flaming SUV crashing into that terminal, Terminal 1 at the airport.
And a device found on one of the suspect while he was in the hospital getting care for critical burns, forcing officials to briefly evacuate that facility.
Now, authorities say the Glasgow incident is in fact linked to Friday's discovery of vehicles packed with explosives in London. The critical designation is the highest alert level in Britain and a warning that terror attacks are imminent.
In response today, the U.S. is increasing security at airports nationwide, ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
This weekend on CNN's 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 8:00 p.m. Eastern. >
ROESGEN: And Chief Constable William Rae of the Scottish police gave a briefing earlier, centering on the suspects that were captured at the Glasgow airport. Here's an excerpt from that briefing, just a short while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF CONSTABLE WILLIAM RAE, STRATHCLYDE POLICE DEPT.: 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 our 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 toward the terminal building. We realize the inconvenience and discomfort this has caused, but it was their safety that was our primary concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROESGEN: The constable also said that Scottish police had arrested two suspects from that SUV, one who was badly burned, and who had some sort of explosive device strapped to his body that they didn't discover until they got him to the hospital. The other suspect is in police custody.
But then what he did not reveal, and what our sources at CNN have since confirmed, is that there was actually a third suspect, a third person in that SUV who was killed in it, whose body is still in that SUV, that's apparently still at the Glasgow airport. That's the latest information that we have now from the Scottish police.
LONG: So just how vulnerable are the world's airports to these kind of security incidents? Joining us now by phone from London is international security analyst Robert Ayers.
Bob Ayers, thanks so much for your time.
ROBERT AYERS, INT'L. SECURITY ANALYST: Sure.
LONG: OK, let's first discuss some of the basics here. We have the incident today, in Glasgow, at the busiest airport in Scotland; and the thwarted bombings yesterday. As you're getting this information and piecing it together, do you see the mark of Al Qaeda attached to the incidents in London, or this incident?
AYERS: I see the tactics of Al Qaeda. What we have is we have a coordinated series of strikes, all within a very short chronological time span, all using the same sort of weaponry. That's a very characteristic indicator of Al Qaeda tactics. Now, to suggest it's Al Qaeda in the U.K. is perhaps a little misleading, because people in the U.K. can certainly be ones that embrace the Al Qaeda philosophy, but they aren't part of the organization. They are, if you will, a loose affiliate, or a franchise, if you will.
LONG: We're hearing the term amateurism, or amateurs, being tossed around when we refer to today's fiery explosion here at the airport and the bombings that did not happen yesterday. Would you use that word, "amateur," to describe what has happened in the last couple of days?
AYERS: I would not, no. If you look at what happened in London, you had two vehicles packed full of propane gas, gasoline, and some form of an ignition center driven into the center of the capital of the United Kingdom, parked literally 300 yards away from 10 Downing Street, and left on the street. Now, the fact that the explosion did not go off doesn't necessarily mean it was amateurish, because we don't know why that didn't happen. Was it a fault in the timer, was a timer set to go off at 8:00 in the morning, and the vehicle was discovered before then? We don't know.
But they managed to put two vehicles right in the heart of London, capable of causing mass casualties. That's not an amateurish activity.
LONG: Do you have the sense that the critical level for the heightened security -- it is now at its critical level -- is absolutely critical to have because other attacks could in fact be imminent?
AYERS: No, I think what you've got going on right now in the U.K., it's a little different than that. Typically when you go to critical, it means they have intelligence that says an attack is going to happen, and they know specific information that causes them to believe that an attack is imminent.
What is occurring right now in the U.K. is there's clearly a linkage between the two attacks in London and the one in Glasgow. The techniques are the same. But there's no intelligence information available yet, that explains how they're connected. And so what the government has done is take the step of increasing the threat level, because they realize something is happening, they don't know what it is, they do realize it's a threat.
And let's not overlook the fact that there's at least two bombers, that delivered the vehicles to London, that are still on the loose in the U.K.
LONG: Considering the fact that terrorists consider mass casualty to be a sign of success, that, thank goodness, did not happen today or yesterday. But at the same time, they have created such chaos and panic. So weren't they, in effect, successful in some way?
AYERS: Well, they certainly created chaos in London. I wouldn't say they created panic. Londoners don't panic easily. They're a pretty tough bunch. Most of the people in London were bitching about the fact it took them forever to get home before because the roads were closed. So, panic, no. The British population doesn't panic.
LONG: At the same time, though, that was Friday before today's fiery explosion. We heard that as well, that before today, it seemed to be more of an inconvenience. Today, perhaps a little more of a severe story? AYERS: Well, I've lived in London for the last 10 years. I lived through the 7/7 bombings, I lived through the attempted 7/21 bombings. And what happened was Brits got up, they got on the train and they went to work. There was no -- there was no panic in the street. There was probably some increased anxiety levels. But it didn't change the behavior of the British at all.
LONG: You are, again, an international security analyst. At this point, we have a new prime minister in place. What support does he need for the international community when this is going on inside of his country and he's relatively new in that position?
AYERS: Well, let's not overlook the fact not only is he relatively new as the prime minister, he was in office less than 24 hours when the bombs in London were attempted to be set off. He's surrounded by a complete series of ministers who are fundamentally very inexperienced.
They don't have the contacts and the personal relationships with other international members. For example, the foreign secretary in the U.K. doesn't know the U.S. secretary of state. There is just a bunch of brand new people in a job. You can't give them support because they don't even know who to ask for the support from.
LONG: We have heard from our white house correspondent Ed Henry, who is traveling with the president, who is in Kennebunkport for business and pleasure, ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. We've learned that the president hasn't reached out to Brown yet. So you're saying that is OK at this point?
AYERS: I'm saying that right now Brown is trying to get his own government up and functioning, and he doesn't have the time, the energy, nor the experienced staff to begin to establish the international relations and draw on support from other countries.
LONG: One of the other big parts of this story is that you have some major events going on this weekend in London. You have a planned memorial concert for the late Princess Diana, a gay pride parade, Wimbledon as well. People have been discussing whether or not those could be postponed or cancelled. What do you think?
AYERS: I don't think they'll postpone them, nor will they cancel them. They're too far into the planning phase. And once you start doing things like that, canceling Wimbledon, canceling conferences, canceling parades, what you've done is basically handed a victory to the terrorists, who are trying to change your way of life, to make you live in fear. When you start behaving like you're living in fear, they've won.
LONG: At the same time, though, you do now have a heightened sense of security with the heightened alert. So, in effect, we do have small changes going on in the streets of London as we speak.
AYERS: Well, the British have been advised for about the last four years now -- and this is a bit of advice that is recurring. It comes from government. It comes from Home Office. And the advice is, it is not a matter of if we're going to be subjected to terror attacks in London. It's simply a matter of when and it's going to happen. So this is not a surprise to people and it's not something that takes anyone, if you will, like a bolt out of the blue where they don't really anticipate this happening. They've known it's coming. They've realized it's going to happen and they're going to get around it.
LONG: So there's the resiliency of people living in the U.K. You live in London yourself and know this information as an international security analyst. Will you be doing anything differently this evening or tomorrow or in the coming days?
AYERS: Well, tomorrow is Sunday, so I am going to plan on sitting home and watching TV and seeing what's happening. My partner and I were discussing how we might behave in terms of commuting back and forth to London. And after a lot of discussion, we decided, well, we'll do it the way we normally do it and get on with it.
LONG: International security analyst Bob Ayers. Thanks so much for your time. We appreciate your perspective and your thoughts.
AYERS: Thank you. Bye-bye.
ROESGEN: And when we come back, we'll have much more on this story of course, plus severe weather in the middle of the country. So don't go away. CNN will be right back.
ROESGEN: Severe weather, flooding, more rain, threats of tornadoes. This is the situation in Oklahoma. Lots of evacuations there. Hundreds of people forced out of their homes. And it looks like they aren't going to get a break any time soon. More rain in the forecast.
Let's check in with Karen Maginnis. She is at the weather center. Karen?
ROESGEN: Thanks so much.
LONG: Thanks, Karen.
ROESGEN: Now we want to give you an update on the story in Conway, Arkansas, that's about an hour away from Little Rock, where a small plane has crashed. Apparently near the airport, crashed into a house, killing a woman inside the house and the pilot of the plane.
On the phone with us is Chief Bart Castleberry, I'm assuming chief of the Conway Police Department. Can you tell us what's happened there?
Once again, we're looking at a live picture now supplied to us by KATV television in Little Rock, Arkansas. You can see the blackened, charred home. And we will try after the next commercial break to get our police chief, Bart Castleberry, to fill us in on just exactly how this fatal plane crash happened. We will be right back.
ROESGEN: And here's what we know right now on the latest terror threat in Great Britain. Authorities are preparing for a possible terrorist incident still to come. The British government has raised the country's terror threat level to critical, the highest designation there.
Two people arrested after today's incident at the Glasgow Airport where an SUV slammed into the terminal, burst into flames. Two people in custody, a third is apparently dead inside the car. And of course now Scottish police and British police do say that this incident is linked to yesterday's failed car bomb attack in London. Both incidents are related.
LONG: And because of all the news that Susan just shared with you, they do have increased security at airports all around the United States. So if you happen to be traveling over the next few days, perhaps over the Fourth of July holiday, you will likely notice an increase in security out of your hometown airport. Josh Levs is at one of the busiest airports not only in the country but at the world, that's Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, with an update from that airport. Josh?
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORORESPONDENT: Yeah, hi. You know, it's true. We were talking a few minutes ago about the fact that the TSA told us today they had stepped-up security presence. In the last few minutes we actually saw members of the TSA conducting what appeared to be a sweep walking behind me on the curbside. And that's where the TSA said they were. There were more people out there at the curbs at each end of this Atlanta airport which as we've been talking about, world's busiest airports.
I also wanted to tell you something very interesting. We spoke with someone who flew in from London. He had been at Heathrow Airport two weeks and had been back there and told us how security was different today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was more when we came in to London about two weeks ago. So it was noticeable. There were police officers above us with guns at the upper levels, so that was more noticeable. I didn't notice that when we came in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: And so we're hearing that from more and more people as they do this international travel. What I can tell you here domestically at the Atlanta Airport people are not overtly seeing changes because there are already so many security procedures in place at many of the U.S. airports, as we're hearing, especially here in Atlanta, nowhere more than Atlanta, particularly when it comes to cars just outside the airport. Tremendous precautions already exist. But as you're seeing we're speaking to passengers from other areas who are seeing those changes today.
LONG: We, as you know, have CNN correspondents at various airports around the country right now. And Lisa Goddard who is at Reagan National Airport, had the opportunity, Josh, to speak with some travelers who, they were not fearful about traveling domestically but if they did have an international flight they were a little more scared considering the news today. Have you noticed that as well?
LEVS: Yeah. We are seeing a little more trepidation and a little more concern in that respect definitely. Now it's important to keep in mind especially for people just joining us as you -- as we've been reporting all day. What we saw today was not specifically about an airplane which is one reason why so many people we talk with here are not that concerned domestically. But what this does is it triggers new fears about international travel in general, especially when it comes to airports.
Absolutely. When it comes to that we are seeing more trepidation and the fact is authorities know this and that's why authorities here and everywhere else are aware of this, because they recognize this is not just a domestic issue anywhere. This is an international issue that can affect any major city anywhere. Absolutely, Melissa.
LONG: We also have been looking at video of officials at the airport casually and with, of course, authority telling people do not linger. You cannot just park your car outside the terminal of course. It's a security issue.
And I think this story really drives home the importance of that. And it will remind all of us don't get upset if they say you can't park there to wait for mom or dad or your partner that may be coming back.
LEVS: And people who know Atlanta over about 10 years have seen a tremendous change after 9/11. And we're reminded of that today. Cars cannot get very close here. The cars you see behind me, if a car tries to stay here a few minutes, it will be kicked out. If you step out because you're dropping off a loved one and luggage is removed, if you take your hands off the car or if you step away from your they're on you immediately. If you make the mistake of keeping your car here, it's gone and it costs a lot to get it back.
So there are tremendous procedures that have been put in place year after year, especially since 9/11. And today what authorities are largely doing are making sure all of those things are happening. That's why the curbside is where a lot of the focus is going today because of what happened in Glasgow.
LONG: Josh Levs from Atlanta's very busy airport. Thanks so much. And I mentioned, Susan, a moment ago, that we have correspondents really stationed around the country at our airports.
ROESGEN: We do. So let's check in now at another major airport, Los Angeles International Airport where CNN's Kara Finnstrom is taking a look at the situation, talking to people there.
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a huge airport and been the target of terrorist plots before, so there is a certain level of concern here. Earlier today we did talk with some airport authorities. They actually released a statement saying that they are going to stay in constant contact with Glasgow authorities and that they are taking a couple of security measures.
One of the things we've been seeing is there are some bomb- sniffing dogs, more canine patrols going around the perimeter of the airport, also within the airport. They also tell us there will be more patrol off ...
ROESGEN: Well, looks like we just lost our reporter, Kara Finnstrom there, a technological problem. But as you see there in the video they have beefed-up security at LAX. They are taking what's happened overseas very seriously, as most major airports will do, as we head into the very busy summer season and especially the July 4th holiday coming up on Wednesday. Melissa?
LONG: With the news coverage we've been bringing you, we think you'll be especially interested in tonight's CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT program on the heels of Glasgow, and the potentially deadly plot in the heart of London, CNN's Christiane Amanpour uncovering terror's surprising new breeding ground where young British Muslims are being indoctrinated in extremism, a report only CNN could bring you, "The War Within." That's tonight and tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
And we're continuing to follow the latest developments out of Glasgow. This is of course video from several hours ago at Glasgow's International Airport. A hustle and bustle airport where today the flights are grounded, the airport is closed after this SUV careened into the terminal. We're following this story and its possible connections to the thwarted bombings in London yesterday.
You're watching CNN.
ROESGEN: As we continue our coverage now of the terrorist -- attempted terrorist attack at the Glasgow Airport in Glasgow, Scotland, witnesses there said the suspects appeared to be of Asian descent and there were reports they were also British citizens but we haven't been able to confirm any of that. We did, however, talk to a terrorism expert Farhana Ali about the people who might have plotted today's event.
FARHANA ALI, TERRORISM EXPERT: When the word Asian is used, particularly in the U.K. context, it really is a reference to Pakistani Americans or even -- excuse me -- to those of Pakistani descent. We've seen that in previous attacks foiled, disrupted plots in the U.K. those who have been convicted, who even have perpetrated the attacks have been of Pakistani descent. In fact there have been individuals who have links to Pakistan, who have either visited the country or who are from that ethical cultural identity. So I don't see an Indonesian link. The only Indonesian link one could draw was the use of suicide or car bombs which was used effectively in the 2002 Bali attacks.
ROESGEN: Well, how much is Pakistan or Pakistani extremists supporting these what we are calling home-grown terrorists in England?
ALI: It's 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 also in Afghanistan. So I would imagine that they would be very supportive 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, you know, these faceless -- 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 sort of stamp this out? Can they stamp it out?
ALI: I certainly would 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, you know, efforts on two fronts. One, I think that there can be a much more robust counterterrorism effort on the part of U.K. authorities. Now granted they have done a great deal and have improved their counterterrorism capabilities. But having said that, it's kind of paradoxical because while they improved their capabilities, they also realize the problem is still enormous and the challenges still exist so on the technical side you can probably import more surveillance and other intelligence aspects. But what's important is the second component, which is the human element.
And in this case and in other disrupted plots, I think that has 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.
LONG: You're looking at pictures from earlier today of that burning SUV that crashed into Glasgow's busy international airport. This was hours ago, just after 3:15 local time. It's now coming up on midnight. The streets are now quiet but there is heightened security. We're continuing to follow the U.K. terror tonight on CNN.
LONG: And it really is perfect timing for this. This weekend, on CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT on the heels of what's happened here, CNN's Christiane Amanpour uncovers terror's new breeding ground where young British Muslims are being indoctrinated into extremism. It's a report only CNN could bring you, "The War Within." It's tonight and tomorrow night here at 8:00 Eastern.
LONG: Terrorist attack or not, this incident will not have a major effect on the U.S. terror alert level here at home. However, you will start to notice some differences if you happen to be traveling. Of course it's a busy travel season with the Fourth of July holiday.
Josh Levs, we have him at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a bustling airport. And he's going to join us now to tell us a little bit more about the history of fighting terrorism in the U.K.
LEVS: Yeah that's right. You know, it's very interesting to be talking to you about the vigilance that's going on right here today at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport because for today I had prepared this report we'll look at now about the vigilance that exists in Britain because of decades of fighting terrorism from the IRA, the Irish Republican Army.
Now, I'll tell you at the top the terrorism Britain is facing today and has faced in recent years is significantly different. But authorities say Britain has been able to put procedures into place right now that come from that history.
LEVS (voice-over): This was London's Canary Wharf in 1996, target of what's believed to be the last major bombing attack by the Irish Republican Army. The Council on Foreign Relations aid IRA attacks dating back to the 1960s killed a total of about 1,800 people, including 650 civilians.
This former IRA terrorist who later became an informant say Britain learned police tactics that worked, like using Northern Irish police who knew the community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They knew the kind of people they were dealing with. They knew the history.
LEVS: Britain also redesigned areas of London to limit the number of streets leading to certain high target areas and installed closed circuit TV cameras, more intrusion for more protection. The steps have been credited with helping block attacks but Britain's recent history with the IRA cuts both ways. Osama bin Laden has pointed to it as a sign terrorists can gain power.
In 1997 he told CNN, "They receive the highest top official of the Irish Republican Army at the White House a political leader while, woe, all woe is the Muslims if they cry out for their rights." With IRA terrorism now believed to be a thing of the past due to a peace agreement, this new terrorism is very different as Islamists regularly use suicide tactics and seek mass casualties.
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The combination of modern technology and a willingness to kill without limit makes this an appreciably different threat.
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