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An SUV Crashes into Terminal at Glasgow International Airport
Aired June 30, 2007 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN GEARSON, PROFESSOR, KINGS COLLEGE: It seems odd that one person was on fire, one person wasn't. Having said that, until the police give us more information, I think we have to be a bit cautious. I don't know if these people had a device, which they were priming which they were going to leave. We just don't know. I think until we're giving the information that certainly they did have an explosive device; I don't really want to, you know, make too many assumptions that this was a suicide bomb attack.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And these are the targets. Besides what we saw in London, a populated area, with two car bombs, again, that didn't explode but a populated area, I guess shopping malls, transits, and airports. Are these the types of targets still that are, like I said earlier, a classic terror targets or are terrorists there expanding a bit, going after things we usually don't think about?
GEARSON: Well, symbols of our society, certainly the U.S. on 9/11 had that where they attacked, you know or tried to attack four -- succeeding attacking three symbols of American society, economics, politics, the military, in the various attacks. In the UK, we generally had bombings that have targeted government, businesses, but also populations. Firebombs put into movie theaters, car bombs put into city centers or into shops. The difference has been in the past that the terrorists generally either gave warnings or let off bombs at hours of the day when areas weren't most populated. They didn't want to lose all public support.
Clearly we are in a different era with international terrorism where they don't really care about the domestic target audience. They're not speaking to us particularly except in terms of their threats. They're speaking to a broader audience of people who seem to think that these sorts of attacks are good. The only worrying thing in the British case recently is evidence presented in trials that some of the bomb plots and earlier plots had discussed trying to blow up nightclubs, where young people were dancing and they wanted to send a statement saying that they regarded the nightclubs as immoral. And they wanted to target young people who were out having fun and drinking alcohol.
HOLMES: All right. John Gearson, again, terrorism analyst and professor at King's College. Sir, we appreciate your time and you lending us your expertise on what has just turned into, I guess, a new concern, new threats there in Great Britain, in the UK, where, as you're seeing here, the pictures we set this for you. You're looking at the Glasgow Airport in Scotland where a vehicle you see there to your right being doused by the water. This is some of the newest video we've gotten in. But apparently this vehicle was deliberately driven into the terminal there at that airport.
According to eyewitnesses, at least one, possibly two people in that vehicle got out of the vehicle and right now police say two people are under arrest, are in custody. The airport right now is closed. Flights have been suspended at this time. We do not know any injuries possibly related to this. This comes, of course, on the heels of two car bombs that were found in London. They did not explode. But two car bombs found in London. That investigation certainly intense right now. And then here we are just a day after seeing this in Scotland happening.
So a lot of questions this morning, still some conflicting reports. But the police officially have arrested two people in regards to this, what appears to be an attack right now. I'm joined now up here with Melissa Long. About to hand it over to you this morning. Good afternoon.
MELISSA LONG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon.
HOLMES: But, yeah, we're going to be following this here all day, as you can imagine, at CNN. So by all means ...
LONG: The information, as you know, has been trickling in for the last couple of hours. We're getting little nuggets and trying to bring the basic information as we get it and working to confirm the information. T.J., thanks so much.
And as you know if you're just joining us, want to give you the very latest. Glasgow Airport, you're looking at pictures there of firefighters trying to douse the flames of that SUV, described as Land Rover or possibly a Jeep Cherokee. Witness accounts from earlier today that people inside that vehicle tried to ram that SUV into Terminal One at Glasgow Airport. It's a busy airport, the busiest in Scotland, serves some eight million people annually. Again we are getting some nuggets. Getting basic people right now. Let's check in with CNN's Paula Newton who has been standing by bringing us information from London.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well as you've been indicating, we do have confirmation finally from police, at least, that there are two people in custody. What we can recapture are the eyewitness accounts that describe that vehicle that you see on fire right now jumping the perimeter at the airport. Most people can identify with that. There's certainly a perimeter around most airports that unauthorized vehicles can't get that close to the terminal building. This vehicle, very quickly, jumped that perimeter and tried to ram into the front of the terminal door. That's according to eyewitness accounts.
It's unclear now if it actually exploded in that way as it was crashing into the terminal or if it was already on fire. Again, two suspects then detained. Eyewitnesses say at least one of them was actually on fire, got out of the passenger side door and then still while on fire tried to open up the back end of that Range Rover. An incredible eyewitness account that we just had on CNN, again very dramatic, a lot of the eyewitness accounts coming from the airport. Really, people are incredibly rattled.
Police are not saying whether this is linked to the two car bombs that were found yesterday in London. That investigation continues, police not telling us more about that investigation today. Scotland Yard sources tell us right now they are still gathering information on this incident that you see right now. You can imagine they have the two suspects in custody. They will be going to their homes, wherever they may be, and getting -- trying to get some search warrants to be able to search those premises and see if this is connected to anything else that may be going on at this country at this time.
You see the vehicle out there right now at the end of the perimeter, and for a good reason. Along the edge of that perimeter, there is steel fortification so that a vehicle cannot penetrate the terminal building. The reason is, if it's gets as far as it's gotten right now, hopefully there wouldn't be too many people gathered outside. That's why if you're outside an airport usually authorities will try to move you on as quickly as possible and into the safety of the terminal building. Authorities telling us, again, that they cannot confirm if there were any injuries. But that is good news at this time, because authorities do not -- cannot say if anyone was injured at this time.
At this time, they don't believe anyone was injured. We do not have any updated information from them. It's been almost an hour from now since they gave us information there were not any injuries, as they knew of. We are waiting for more information on that.
LONG: Paula, I know you've been working on a story about airport security. It comes at an appropriate time given this story. Now the British Airport Authority, the BAA you've been working closely with them. Considering they run this airport, have ties to Heathrow. What changes are in place right now in Heathrow considering what has happened in Glasgow?
NEWTON: They were talking about changes last week and the reason is that when they reviewed the security situation from a terror threat that had happened at Heathrow last summer they realized that they left a lot of people exposed both inside the terminal building and outside the perimeter because they sat up holding tents. Something else that they did here at Christmas time as well. Heathrow was socked in by fog here at Christmas time and there was a significant amount of people left out in tents and that was kind of a staging area that the airlines were using to try to funnel people through. When you look at what's going on with this vehicle on fire right now, you can understand why aviation security officials were reviewing that situation to see if that was actually safe.
And you can see from the situation perhaps that was not a good idea. They were reviewing that. At this point in time, last week we went to Heathrow because we were going to give you an updated story on aviation security at CNN here on Monday. So we had gone to Heathrow Airport. We had asked for an interview with the head of security of BAA who was also in charge of security at this airport in Glasgow, which runs BAA. We were told he was definitely not available the entire week. We know that he also pulled out of other events.
Aviation security sources telling us they were reviewing, in fact, threats against what they described as attack on aviation assets. And, again, we're not talking about the planes here or what goes on on the runway. We're talking about more of the infrastructure that supports the airport. And that's what was their main concern, at least up until last week.
Again, I have to stress it's not that they had any kind of credible information about anything like this that was underway. They've been absolutely categorical about that. They've had absolutely no indication that anything like this was under way. They were just looking at the security situation going into what was -- what is a very busy summer travel season.
LONG: Paula Newton in London. Paula, thanks so much. Of course we'll talk to you in a little bit. If you are just turning on your television this afternoon, want to make sure you're up to date on this breaking news story out of Scotland, Glasgow, the busiest airport in Scotland. These are pictures from there just earlier today of an SUV described as a Land Rover or a Jeep Grand Cherokee according to witnesses ramming into Terminal One at that complex. We can tell you two people have been arrested. The flights at that airport have been suspended. The airport is now closed.
Of course we're waiting for information from the British prime minister and of course waiting for information from President Bush. We've told that he has been briefed. He is in Kennebunkport, Maine on vacation but of course is staying up to date on the latest information in Scotland. Also waiting to hear from the Pentagon and Barbara Starr has been speaking with intelligence analysts and joins us now live to tell us what they've been talking about today. Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've spoken to a couple of intelligence analysts, a couple of military officials who have a lot of expertise in looking at these kind of situations. I want to emphasize, of course, no one in the U.S. government at this point, you know, has any specific information about exactly what has happened here. But an awful lot of officials in Washington are also looking at these television pictures. And they understand when they look at them; they look for indicators, the very same kind of indicators that British investigators clearly will be looking at.
Some of the things that our sources are telling us is they look at the pictures of this vehicle as it was burning is like so many other people have said. It certainly appears to have been deliberate. A simple traffic accident, if you will, with a gasoline tank involved, likely would not have burned this way. If there was gasoline or propane or some kind of liquid fuel involved, there was some sort of igniter or detonator that set this all off. One of our officials is complaining to us when you have something like propane, as we saw in London, perhaps, if has to mix with the air in a very regulated fashion, and that makes the absolute combustible type of mix that you would see here. And then when it detonates, it explodes. It doesn't just burn and burn off, if you will. It detonates with a force. And that's the kind of explosive flames that we're seeing in this situation in Glasgow.
So the forensics specialists are going to be looking, as they look at these pictures -- they're actually going to be looking at the flames, how hot, how high, what color, how could this device have been detonated, what were the kind of materials, what was the accessibility of the materials to whoever put all of this together? This isn't the kind of bomb, of course, car bomb that we see necessarily in Iraq, for example. In Iraq, there have been some fuel bombs. But many of those suicide car bombs are actually high explosives, actually more solid fuel. It doesn't look like it has the sort of traditional al Qaeda footprint. Those types of car bombs we saw in east Africa in the Embassy bombings so many years ago, those had what you call shaped charges.
Massive damage, massive force of explosion, very specifically structured into the bomb. So one of the questions these forensics specialists clearly are going to ask, are people now being trained somehow to develop these kinds of bombs much more readily accessible material, put them together in a clandestined fashion in their neighborhoods where they're not seen, drive them to places? Do they know how to detonate them at exactly the time they want to and the fashion they want to? And of course one of the key questions and we don't know the answer, but specialists are telling us, could this situation at the airport have been a copycat? Could someone have actually put this together so quickly after the London situation, seen it, gotten everything together, made another device and driven to Glasgow Airport within perhaps a matter of hours?
Or, in fact, are these unrelated and is there some sort of communications capability amongst groups that are doing this, that are planning it? And that of course would be of significant concern. So what our sources are telling us is these are the kinds of key questions that forensics, the analysis, the real crime scene investigation that clearly is already under way and every expectation is there is with the London situation, that British intelligence and security services will be sharing the information with U.S. Intelligence and with U.S. Intelligence services. They normally always do, with law enforcement looking to see if there are any signs, any indications of any kind of broader picture here, Melissa.
LONG: Barbara Starr, Pentagon correspondent. Barbara thanks so much for the analysis of what those in the intelligence industry are saying today. Barbara thanks so much. We'll talk to you a little bit later. T.J., you thought you were getting away.
HOLMES: Yeah, we are back. Just taking a quick break. Yeah, it's a lot happening, a lot coming in, including from our Ed Henry who as we saw a little earlier was with the president at Kennebunkport where the president has been vacationing there in Maine, taking some time to rest and relax. But word now from the White House, from our Ed Henry that, yes, in fact, here in the U.S., that security is going to be stepped up a bit at airports. The U.S. is boosting the presence of U.S. security officials at airports. The overall U.S. terror threat level, however, is going to stay the same.
And, again, we have been told repeatedly that there is no credible threat to the U.S. in light of what's happening right now in London and also now what we're seeing in Scotland. But now the worked is that the U.S. is in fact boosting the presence of security officials at airports at this time but still no word that there is any kind of a credible threat to any targets anywhere here in the U.S.
Also, after we saw the two bombs found in London, the two car bombs that of course did not explode, after we saw those were found, there was a lot of talk about whether or not U.s. cities were going to start stepping up security. One of the few cities that did make the move was, of course, New York City. And we're now getting a statement from the police commissioner there, Police Commissioner Kelly. I'll go ahead and read it to you.
Quick statement, through you our continued consultation with authorities in Great Britain we're paying close attention to events in Scotland and London, both, we're maintaining the additional safeguards that were put in place yesterday as an ongoing precaution against attacks here. New York decided to go ahead and step up security a bit. And that's the word that the mayor there, Mayor Bloomberg actually used. We're going to step up security a bit to increase, even though, again, no credible threat to any place here in the U.S.
But they're doing this now as a precaution at this point. We do have, as we saw earlier -- we've been getting all kind of eyewitness reports from the scene. A lot of conflicting reports, but still they've been able to help us piece together what has been happening there at the airport in Glasgow, Scotland. We do want to listen now to Gordon Chree who was an ITN reporter who was on the screen. This is what he had to say in an interview a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON CHREE, ITN REPORTER, GLASGOW: Been about two hours since this happened. The airport is completely evacuated tonight. Passengers who were hoping to get on or off of flights around the car parks here, a state of real confusion for them, no one giving much information to them about what's happening. But from the footage that we have seen here, the Land Rover was crashed directly into the front of the airport. It exploded. Eyewitnesses tell me, as you say, of seeing people on fire there, one of them apparently being restrained as he tried to break away. The situation tonight is that no flights will be coming in or out of Glasgow Airport today certainly. Thousands of people disrupted by this. In terms of the official word from the police, not much so far. But I did hear one officer refer to this as a crime and not an accident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gordon can you tell us how passengers reacted while all this was unfolding?
CHREE: Obviously, very dramatic for them at the time. It does seem to be quite a calm reaction as people made their way out of the airport. Smoke but not too much in the way of panic. The reaction now is much of anger. They want to know what's going to happen to them tonight, a loss of hotels already full, people with medical conditions worried how they will be spending their Saturday night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: That's Gordon Chree an ITN reporter who was on the scene. Again as you are looking at these pictures that kind of tells that story of a car that runs into something, doesn't just burst into flames. You can conclude by looking at the flames and the intensity of them there's something in there fueling the fire and a pretty intense fire there at the airport. And that's the word that possibly it was full of fuel, full of gasoline, full of possible canisters inside and meant to explode upon impact at that airport.
Our Jeanne Meserve is one of many correspondents certainly keeping an eye on this story, working her folks for information. Jeanne, what do you have and what have you been able to find out about this? And, also, I guess London as well? We can't forget about that and what happened there.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. As you mentioned, the White House announcing that security is going to be increased at airports. We don't have the specifics yet. The overall terror level remaining the same. It's been at yellow but aviation has been bumped up a step to orange ever since there was a liquids threat last summer. No change in that but a mix up in security procedures you are going to see around the airports. We will get you more specifics on that.
The U.S. officials by and large have been deferring very much to British officials on this whole investigation, both of what's happening in Glasgow and what's happening in London over the last few days. A statement from the FBI just an hour or so ago said, we will continue to assess the information, but at this time we have no intelligence that there is a credible threat to the U.S. based on these events.
All these concerns about airports, the terminals, as well as the aircraft, you may remember that in 2002, a gunman opened fire at the El Al Counter at the Los Angeles International Airport, killing two people. And this there was the millennium bomber, Ahmad Assam who was arrested coming over the border from Canada. His truck full of explosives, his target, again, the terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. So we could expect probably to see some changes in perimeter security around U.S. airports as a result of what's happening this afternoon.
But getting back to what happened yesterday in London and those two bombs that were found there in cars, we spoke with a senior federal official who has knowledge of the investigation. He wanted to refute a couple of things that had within reported. One was that authorities in London had a crystal clear image of an individual in association with one of those car bombs. This official says, he would not describe it as crystal clear. They do have an image from one of those closed circuit television cameras and they're working to enhance it, working to improve it so they can get more out of it.
Also, there had been reports that authorities were on the lookout for three individuals. This person disputed that number but said, yes, they are on the lookout for an unspecified number of individuals in connection with the car bombs in London. This senior official also said that although they have not been able to identify the current owners of either one of those vehicles, they were able to identify and questioned previous owners of those cars. And they also have figured out that those two cars were parked at about the same time in London. So a little progress in that investigation that we've been told about. And probably more we haven't been told about.
Back to you.
HOLMES: And, Jeanne, what can we conclude from what we've seen in the past as far as threats at airports? The government is telling us here in the U.S., no credible threats here. They're taking the precaution, I guess they would call it and we could call it, of just increasing security a bit at the nation's airports. Is that just standard procedure these days when you see something like this anywhere in the world that you just have to do that? You have to take the right steps and just make the precautions, no matter what?
MESERVE: Well, there's a phrase that's become very familiar to those of us in Washington who cover security issues and it's called an abundance of caution. And frequently, they invoke that when they're raising security. I mean, although they have told us that they have no credible and specific threats against the U.S., they are always aware that there are things they don't know. Look at London. Officials there have said they didn't have a clue about these car bombs until they were found on the street.
And so when you see something like this happening in Glasgow, particularly so quickly on the heels of those two car bombs in London, it must be that authorities have decided out of that abundance of caution to do something here. But again no specifics yet, authorities are going to divulge those to us shortly.
HOLMES: Help us, if you can, Jeanne with the -- and we hear the colors all the time, the orange, the yellow. I'm not sure how many people you could walk up to on the street who could tell you the difference. You said that we've been at the orange level at the airport since that liquid scare we had earlier. So what is the difference, really, between yellow and orange, if you can give us that?
MESERVE: Well, yellow is right in the middle range. There's a range of five different colors. Yellow is right in the middle. Basically, that's where the country has been since 9/11. It's been elevated a couple of times, they started because it was so expensive to up the threat level and involved so much more security, to try to differentiate different sectors within the country. For instance, at one point there was a threat against financial centers, so that was the part that was raised to orange.
With the liquid explosive threat is was a threat to aviation, so that was raised to orange. The idea is to try not to increase the costs all across the board to all security personnel. What does it mean? Well frankly it varies a little bit from airport to airport but it means there is extra caution. It means they have extra personnel, extra patrols. They shake up the security from time to time and of course they instituted that ban on liquids that is still in effect here in the United States.
HOLMES: All right, Jeanne Meserve for us following this story as well. Jeanne, thank you so much.
MESERVE: You bet.
LONG: Continuing to follow the story out of Glasgow Airport and it takes us back to Kennebunkport, Maine. While so many people in the UK are getting ready to celebrate their holidays, President Bush is also on vacation ahead the fourth of July holiday but still keeping up to date on what's taking place in Scotland today. Ed Henry is there traveling with the president up in Maine. You have new information from the White House.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right Melissa. The president has been briefed on the situation in Scotland. We already reported this morning that the president was briefed on two occasions about the situation in London, the White House cautioning noted there is really no major new information that they have to give to the president or to give to us, frankly, as Jeanne has been reporting, the U.S. Officials trying to get a handle on the situation now in Scotland today, get as much information as they can, but they have no new information connecting it to what happened in London yesterday and also as Jeanne is reporting, they're re in forcing there is no credible threat against the United States.
Tony Snow just told reporters that in fact the Transportation Security Administration has enhanced security measures outside mostly large airlines in the U.S. Again that is not because of specific information but they want out of an abundance of caution to beef up the police presence. They're sending out what the White House is calling alertness raising packages. These are information packages they send out to airports all around the country, small, medium and large and then it's up to the local communities and local airports to decide exactly what they're going to do with that information.
Tony Snow says basically the way passengers will feel it, will be a larger police presence outside airports to try to serve as a deterrent and Tony Snow said candidly that passengers heading to mostly large airports in the United States today and at least the next couple of days presumably will be facing some inconveniences as they head there. Now, there are no plans, according to the White House, to have another cabinet level meeting like they had yesterday, not a full cabinet level but several secretaries got together for an assessment of what happened in London. No plans to do that today.
Back at the White House, though, Tony Snow said there are meetings going on at the Department of Homeland Security obviously to get on top of the situation. When I mentioned the president being briefed, what's happening is the National Security Council at the White House is passing information even when the president is out on a bike ride or he is out on a boat fishing, they pass information to the military aide who is always with the president regardless of where he is. And that's how the president has been briefed. He's also been briefed after he's come back from some of those recreational activities.
As to the question we've been talking about over the last 24 hours, are these incidents as all timed to the timing of the change of power in Great Britain, is it tied at all to Gordon Brown becoming the new prime minister and terrorists trying to test him after just a couple of days in office, Tony Snow saying it's impossible to know. Not clear what the providence of all these incidents are, obviously, the White House being cautious to make sure they don't connect dots that may not necessarily be connected.
Finally I asked Tony Snow about whether security here in Kennebunkport will be beefed up. Obviously, the president is not just here for vacation. He also has meetings with the Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow into Monday. Snow said he would not comment on whether security here on the ground has been increased. Obviously, starting tomorrow afternoon you'll have two current presidents in President Bush and President Putin as well as a former president with President Bush's father here. Three presidents basically on the ground here in Kennebunkport. Obviously, security a major issue.
LONG: Ed, you mentioned whether or not the thwarted attack yesterday in London, the incident today in Glasgow could be a test of the new prime minister and also could be a test of the new relationship. Of course we know the former Prime Minister Tony Blair had a very deep relationship with President Bush. Could this in fact test the new relationship that will be forged and the U.S. response to this will be important for Great Britain?
HENRY: You're right. It's certainly going to test Gordon Brown so soon in office. There's obviously the question out there about whether terrorists are trying to test him start launching attacks although we don't know again exactly what these incidents are. In terms of it testing the U.S./British relationship, I doubt it because frankly over the last 24 hours with both of these situations unfolding, the White House has been very clear that they have been in contact with British authorities both with the incidents in London and now the incident this morning at the Glasgow Airport and that, as Jeanne has been reporting, counterparts between the U.S. government, the British government are working hand in hand.
So the sense you get is that there's no daylight between the U.S. and British governments. Obviously, both sides trying to get to the bottom of all of these situations as quickly as they can. But they obviously don't want to get beyond the detectives work on the ground before they make any assessments that could turn out to be wrong.
In terms of the relationship between President Bush and Gordon Brown, the president so far has not called Gordon Brown since these incidents have been unfolding over the last 24 hours or so. The White House says that's mostly because he doesn't want to interfere, that this is being handled by Gordon Brown. But you're right to know, obviously, President Bush had a very, very close relationship with the former Prime Minister Tony Blair. There have been questions about whether Gordon Brown will be as stalwart an ally; will he keep a large number of British troops on the ground in Iraq?
So those questions are out there. But I can tell you now in the immediate aftermath, in the low, mid and high levels, the U.S. and British governments are trying to work together to get to the bottom of all of these situations.
LONG: Ed Henry from Kennebunkport, Maine. Ed, I'm sure we'll be talking with you in a little bit. Ed thanks so much.
Department of Homeland Security of course is keeping a close watch on this. Our Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve, I understand you also have some new information to share.
MESERVE: Yes, just a little bit to share, that there will be a statement coming up from the secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff sometime shortly. It may give us more specifics about what will be happening at the nation's airports.
At this point in time officials are saying what you're going to see is an increased security presence. They say they're doing this out of due diligence because they are excising an abundance of caution they are again saying they have absolutely no information indicating a specific, credible threat against U.S. facilities. This is just a precautionary measure that they will be taking. They're cautioning travelers because as you know this is a holiday weekend. Travel very, very heavy. They're saying it may take you a little bit longer to get through the lines, get to the airport. So get there even earlier than you might have planned to.
LONG: A lot of people when you go to the airport these days, you almost feel that you're being hassled because you can't park close if you're dropping somebody off or picking up a loved one. You just can't park for too long. This story just shows exactly why those security precautions are in place.
MESERVE: That's exactly right. It's why when you go to the airport to drop someone off or pick someone up they're hustling you along to get out of the way. It is why when there is an increased threat level they sometimes keep you further away from the terminal. It is because they have been targeted before. It's because they are afraid they could be targeted again.
Large numbers of people gather at these terminals on a daily basis and any place where there are large groups of people there is a potential for a terror strike. But, again, no specific intelligence about anything that's going to happen here.
LONG: Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve, thank you so much. We're looking at live pictures of various airports around the country. So many people, T.J., will be traveling of course for the fourth of July holiday, some people even extending that beyond just a few days.
HOLMES: Why is it we always seem to see some kind of threat or alert around the time people are traveling a lot. There you go again, we're seeing all the airports around this country. Again, no threat, according to the U.S. government, no credible threat to any airport or any target at all in the U.S., but taking this out of an abundance of caution is the term that's being used.
But if you are just joining us, just tuning in, we want to get you caught up and up to speed on what has been happening the past couple of hours, what we've been seeing. Of course we're just a day past a couple of car bombs that were found in London. London is on high alert right now after those two car bombs were found. They did not detonate, however now here we are today, that's video actually we were seeing just from the other day of the incidents happening in London. Again, two car bombs were found there, did not explode. Investigation intense there right now in London to try to track down who put those vehicles there, what the target was and if it's going to lead to something else or if this threat has been dealt with right now.
On the heels of that here we are today at the Glasgow International airport where we see a vehicle that's been driven into a terminal there and led to this. The vehicle did not explode but did catch fire. You can see by the intensity of those flames there's something feeding it. Two people have been arrested in connection with this and are in police custody but not clear who they are and if this is any way connected to the two car bombs that did not explode in London the other day. We have been hearing from eyewitnesses who have been at that airport in Glasgow, in Scotland. Here now, another eyewitness account of what he saw there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON CHREE, ITN REPORTER, GLASGOW: Well, Steve, it's now around two hours since this happened. The airport is completely evacuated tonight. Passengers hoping to get on or off flights around the car parks here, a state of real confusion for them, no one giving much information to them about what's happening. But from the footage that we have seen here, the Land Rover was crashed directly into the front of the airport, it exploded. Eyewitnesses tell me as you say, of people on fire there, one apparently being restrained as he tried to break away.
The situation tonight is that no flights will be coming in or out of Glasgow Airport for today certainly. Thousands of people disrupted by this. In terms of the official word from the police, not much so far, but I did hear one officer refer to this as a crime and not an accident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, Gordon, can you tell us how passengers reacted while all this was unfolding?
CHREE: Obviously, very dramatic for them at the time. It does seem to have been quite a calm reaction, though, as people made their way out of the airport. A few shouts of smoke but not too much in the way of panic. The reaction now a mixture of frustration and anger. What they want to know is what's going to happen to them tonight. A loss of local hotels already full that are people, some of them with medical conditions really worried how they'll be spending their Saturday night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could see a large, what looked like a Land Rover or a Range Rover with a couple of guys in it trying to push their way into the terminal building. The Land Rover suddenly caught fire. What was really odd was that one of the guys was on fire, but he was trying to sort of open up the back of the Range Rover. And it was very, very dramatic, I have to say. It started out with some flames coming up from the front of the car. But then it was almost as if there was kind of a mini explosion, as if thread been a petrol canister or something and the flames were shooting right up to the top of the terminal building, which was quite dramatic.
Then the terminal building seemed to catch fire. The front of the terminal building seemed to catch fire. Smoke and flames going inside the building and outside as well, people just ran. They were absolutely terrified, as you can imagine, because the first thing in our minds is it an accident, is it a terrorist, is it a terrorist attack?
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HOLMES: That is in fact the question right now. It seems like with police officials and pretty much anybody putting the pieces together can move past the idea of this being an accident, certainly by looking at the flames, first of all, but also by the circumstances of piecing what has happened here. Two individuals again under arrest right now in connection with this, a car driven into the terminal in Glasgow Airport in Scotland. Our Paula Newton has been here with us, who certainly covers the area and has been covering the two car bombs that were found in London as well. Paula, the I guess what everybody is going to conclude right now -- not conclude. I shouldn't say that. But is thinking this is a possibility, is this just a coincidence we saw the two car bombs and now here this happened to happen a day or so afterwards. So what's the, I guess the word there? Is anybody connecting these just yet?
NEWTON: Well, we had security experts tell us yesterday that usually these things start out and they end in waves what is a concerted campaign. That doesn't mean what happened here is linked to what happened in London specifically, but that is what they learn to expect from these things. One thing I want to point out that we were going to report earlier about the two car bombs that were found in London, one line of inquiry that police are exploring and that they want to rule out but they can't is that the two car bombs that were found in London were actually initially supposed to be suicide attacks, meaning that two suspects tried to detonate and failed.
And that's when they fled the scene. Now, sources close to the investigation tell me that they have all the CCTV footage they need to hopefully answer that question for them. I'm told that it took them several hours just to download all that CCTV evidence and now they're going through all of it. We're also told that in terms of what they're seeing, that they're fairly pleased in the sense that they like the kind of evidence that they're seeing and that it gives them a lot of leads to go on. But, again when we start to look at the pictures that we're looking at now in terms of the two suspects and we're not linking the cases and the police have not told us what this actually is, but when you look at it with two people actually coming out of the vehicle, it does now make this kind of line of inquiry more urgent to explore for Scotland Yard authorities.
They had put it up to us today as a possibility and told us it was something they were looking into. Now when you look at this incident, they may think it is more likely that what happened in London was those two car bombs were to be planted and not to be remotely detonated but actually tried to be set off by somebody, two suspects, who were in the cars themselves. We cannot confirm any of that. We're telling you exactly kind of the lines of inquiry that Scotland Yard would be facing.
That's why yesterday when we said that mobile phones were involved, we were cautioned to say, look, we don't know if that involved remote detonation or whether it was just being used as some specific time of timer. Police are still trying to fit in all the pieces of this puzzle. And that was one possibility that they still could not rule out. Further than that, we're mentioning of course there will be stepped-up security at all U.S. airports.
A little while ago I attended a briefing after a meeting between Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in the United States and John Reid, who was the home secretary here previously in Tony Blair's administration. One thing that Michael Chertoff told me directly that he is concerned about our so-called clean skins coming in from Europe, specifically Britain. What does he mean by clean skins? By clean skins, he means people who have no prior criminal record, who on the visa waiver program can fly into the United States without a visa, without any advance notice. For several months, Mr. Chertoff has been negotiating with the EU, including Britain, to try to get data 48 hours ahead of time, to have people be forced to submit 48 hours before they fly into the U.S., data on who they are, where they're flying, the reason they're flying, so that the United States is given a heads-up in terms of who will be flying into their airports.
Mr. Chertoff stopped short of threatening to suspend that visa waiver if that wasn't done, but that was clearly what was implied through these negotiations. Last week they did come to some kind of agreement, the details of which we don't know yet. But it's become very clear that because of the incidents that go on in Britain, that now there is a thought -- and it's been said by many security analysts, that one of the greatest threats to the United States is there are people coming in from Europe, specifically Britain, into the United States without any notice whatsoever.
Mr. Chertoff has tried to -- really trying to lay any fears that people may have in the United States that any of what you're seeing in Britain could come to pass in the United States, that the threat would be neutralized. One of the ways he sought to do that was to try and get this data 48 hours in advance. This -- the events here may change certainly the tone of those negotiations significantly going forward.
LONG: Paula, there are a number of high profile events going on this weekend. You have Wimbledon. You have a gay pride march. You have a memorial concert tomorrow for the late Princess Diana. Security will clearly be changed. Or are there any plans to cancel or postpone those events?
NEWTON: It's a really good question and something we've been dealing with all day. We continue to go back to the police. They say, no, they have no desire to try to cancel these events even until they get any kind of a credible, specific threat they don't see any reason to actually cancel any of these events. Something they would have to get that kind of intelligence to say to themselves, OK, let's cancel these big events. The reason they didn't express this to us, people who are just people here in Britain have expressed this to us. They fear that if they do do that, it means that certainly terrorists have won at that point and they feel that we're not at the point where we should be canceling events because these things have happened.
I can tell you having spent several hours on the streets of London today you can't get too far without seeing any kind of authorities. You're certainly not going to be parking your car where it's not supposed to in the underground. A police presence like I have not seen here for quite some time, on every platform at every station. And certainly on the streets of London. Having said that, until this had happened, the mood was still quite good and people were basically shrugging off what had happened in London, he. Seeing these kinds of pictures may actually change that quite a bit.
HOLMES: It's interesting to hear you say that word, shrugging off what happened in London. This changes things to see this. But you talked to us about how people there are used to dealing with terrorism. Help people understand again what the folks in London and Great Britain have dealt with for the past -- for decades even with terrorism and how it takes a lot more than, I guess, an unexploded bomb to rattle them.
NEWTON: Well I can tell you as a commuter here in London I do not suffer through a lot of convenience that people in the days of the trouble of I.R.A. went through. You are talking about daily sometimes two or three times daily having your (INAUDIBLE) because of so called bomb scares and bomb threats. A lot of the tactics about the I.R.A. were incredibly shocking for many years. People lived with that, then after that, the I.R.A. did give notice to keep casualties to a minimum but it didn't mean people were still on edge and disrupted absolutely every minute of the day practically.
And people would talk about that, how difficult it was to just get on with daily life because there were so many security alerts. There just aren't that many security alerts anymore and it becomes much easier for people to shrug this kind of thing off. And because of that history and even if you're dealing with a generation now that doesn't remember that history, as I said, they just kind of get on with it and really refuse to get that rattled about these kinds of events because they do feel that at some point in time if you do get that rattled you are giving in to the terrorists.
I'm also being told right now that the British government will be meeting this evening to have another cobra meeting. Cobra meeting is a code word for them having an emergency response meeting that will be chaired by the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown along with most of his cabinet. He'll be getting an update both from internal security, intelligence from Scotland Yard and be getting an update on these events in Glasgow and an update on the investigation that continues and is ongoing here in London regarding those two car bombs.
LONG: When the prime minister took on the new appointment just days ago, he was charged with forming the new government, creating his new cabinet. Has he had the opportunity to get everybody in place?
NEWTON: He did get everyone in place although just. It was absolutely barely. If you take the equivalent of the Homeland Security, but it's completely different but I'll equate it for now. That's the home office here. The home office has been in a shambles for months. That's not my description it is the description of the minister that was formerly in charge, he called it not fit for purpose. Imagine the mess that officials agreed the department was in. They decided to split it up because they thought it was too unruly and they could not govern it. So they split it up.
The woman that is in charge right now, Jacque Smith, who is basically the equivalent of Michael Chertoff is in charge of these investigations, all security, all police. People report to her. This is new for her. She is new in the job. She has had cabinet appointments before, certainly not at this level. It must be quite a baptism by fire and quite daunting. But I have to tell you in the last two years security sources have always told us that things have changed significantly here in Britain and the reason is because of the July 7th attacks.
Before that, if I take you back to the day before those July 7th attacks, London was told it would get the Olympics, there was great jubilation in the city, one of the things said by the cabinet was they were confident there it would not be a terrorism attack in London. The very next day, there was and obviously rattled the government so much that apparently during one of those emergency response meetings literally the actual security officials were at a loss. And when questioned by then Prime Minister Tony Blair, were at a loss. They were so stunned. They really were disbelieving that anything like that could have happened in Britain.
That is not the case today. In the ensuing two years, they have had a lot of time to really coordinate their security strategy and the kind of briefings that goes on with the level of detail that goes on, not just with the prime minister who just stepped down, Tony Blair, but also with people like Gordon Brown who are at the cabinet table. It is quite detailed in terms of the ongoing plots, the ongoing suspects that are under surveillance, the nature of the threat that Britain faces. So you can bet that today the cabinet meeting that is convened, the people there will be fully briefed and have been for months about the type of threat that Britain could be facing.
HOLMES: All right. Our Paula Newton, thank you so much for what you've been giving us here. I know you've got plenty of other calls to make and people to talk to. We'll give you a minute here and a break. But, please, don't go too far away. We'll be checking back in with you, Paula.
LONG: If you are just turning on your television, we want to make sure you're updated on today's breaking story. You're looking at fiery video out of Glasgow Airport. A couple of hours ago two people were arrested after witnesses said they rammed that SUV into the airport. It is a busy airport, Scotland's busiest, serving some eight million people a year. Two people arrested but now we're trying to piece together exactly what happened today and whether or not there could be ties to yesterday's thwarted bombings in London.
Let's bring in Mike Grannatt the former head of Britain's Civil Contingency Secretariat. Mike thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it. Let's first bring everybody in the know about exactly what the Civil Contingencies Secretariat is. It's a cabinet office that really responds during national emergencies, is that right?
MIKE GRANNATT, FMR. HEAD BRIT. CIVIL CONTINGENCIES: It's a unit within the cabinet office that essentially is there to prepare for the aftermath of -- and prepare planning for the handling of disasters, however they're caused. It could be caused by terrorism. It could be caused by the weather.
LONG: So what exactly are the members, the colleagues in that department doing at this very point as they try to figure out whether or not there could be ties between what happened today in Glasgow and what happened yesterday or did not happen, I should say, because the bombings were thwarted.
GRANNATT: I think the key people involved at this particular stage people and other places where I've also worked, the home office, which you've heard about, although I think in terms I wouldn't quite recognize, and in the police service. The immediate thing that will be happening is to try to establish what was going on here and whether anybody else is likely to do the same thing. The great priority of course is public safety for any government.
The first thing that will be under way, is do we think this is actually an attack, is it something that could be replicated elsewhere, what do we know about what is going on across the piece and indeed is it linked with London? So information gathering on a big scale, information gathering from witnesses, from CCTV at the airports, from what they can find out from the vehicle, from the men who appear to have been captured after fleeing the vehicle and putting that together with information they know about already. And of course parsing individual from everybody around the world who is in part of the network of organizations and agencies that deal with terrorism.
LONG: How important will forensics be with this investigation?
GRANNATT: Very important indeed, but if that vehicle is burnt out there may not be very much material for forensics scientists to examine. With the devices in London of course there was described as a gold mine, two vehicles practically undamaged with an enormous amount of material for forensic scientists to look at. With a burnt-out vehicle rather less. However, if there are serial numbers to be found, if there are canisters of some sort, there will be enough evidence for people to look at and start tracing.
LONG: Looking at the London situation where you had two cars packed with, as you called, a gold mine of materials, there are some that are saying that because those materials could have been purchased at any local hardware store, that this will be a difficult investigation, difficult to really track down those responsible.
GRANNATT: Well it makes it harder but it doesn't make it impossible. If you're dealing, for example, with big gas cylinders sold for camper vans, these things do have serial numbers on them. There are identifying marks of all sorts, manufacturer, retailer and all sorts of things that are sold over the counter. So while of course it may be more difficult to trace them, the fact is that it's not impossible and done every day by forensic scientists indeed across the world.
The real significance of things that are everyday is that you'll see terrorism, which is using things that are easily available. And whose purchase does not seem unusual. Terrorists of course want to stay hidden until the moment they make their impact and they want to be able to do their work without people being suspicious about it. So they're bound to try to use things, which are everyday objects.
LONG: Michael, we've been hearing that people have been urging vigilance just with the news of yesterday and now clearly with today's fiery crash here at the airport. Considering that urge to keep people -- keeping an eye out, to be vigilant, what are your thoughts and the potential for even more?
GRANNATT: Well, I mean, I think I was slightly taken aback by your previous report; the description of the way people thought the home office was in a shambles over this. We've been dealing with terrorism for 30 years. I worked at the home office and as a met police. I have to say the one bit of the home office that worked extremely well was the counter terrorism, in conjunction with all sorts of other agencies. There will be an immediate belief that this is linked to other things and something else may happen, because these things rarely these days happen singly. If this is the sort of international terrorism we've been seeing across the world.
So I think immediate thoughts among people here, among the officials will be what do we do now to make sure that people keep their eyes open? And how do we reassure people that we can deal with these things? Among the public, the thought will be, OK, what do I need to do for myself and my family now in the -- for individuals, in the extremely unlikely event something happens. Those are the two things that are going to concern people. What do we tell the public? How do we make sure there isn't another one out there?
LONG: Mike Grannatt former head of Britain's Civil Contingencies Secretariat a unit within the cabinet. Thank you so much Mike for your perspective today, we do appreciate it.
GRANNATT: A pleasure.
HOLMES: And we've been getting new images, new video here. We have the new images we want to show you as well from the scene there. This picture we're seeing of passengers trying to make their way out of the airport, as we know the airport is shut down. It is closed, all flights suspended. You're not going anywhere from that airport. Here's another picture we're seeing here. This is a shot we saw a little earlier that shows pretty good perspective of that vehicle, that truck or that SUV on fire, a ball of flames right there as it crashed into the terminal there. And, again, the word is the vehicle did not burst into flames on impact. That it took a few minutes later after it crashed, for the flames to get going.
So a lot of information can be linked from that as well. This looks like roughly the same picture. We can move to the next one now. We have several showing you just getting in. Here the passengers. Air travel is nothing -- can't be described as fun by too many people these days with security, but it's a necessary, but again something else here, something that happened like this, you can only imagine what some of the folks are thinking and feeling having to leave the airport when they're thinking they're about to take a trip. Here video of a couple of police officers there. Looks like those are firefighters actually huddled there. Can't make out where the area is but, again, another photo, some of the latest we're getting for you.
Here again, looks like some folks making their way out of the airport. Again, we can keep rolling through some of these, if you will. Again, here's a looks like an area roped off and a fire truck as well. We're just getting a lot and, again, airport police certainly trying to get people together. They're having to shut down, as you can only imagine, just day in and day out -- that is, everybody out there who has traveled can feel for those folks who thought they were about to go travel. Who knows where they were going. A lot of holiday travel going on here as well. For this to happen and certainly change ups your plans in a dramatic and scary way.
Our Paula Newton again has been standing by here with us. And, Paula, this is the scene we're seeing here. And the fire here now kind of -- we haven't forgotten about what we saw at London but this like you were saying earlier this drives it home a little differently for folks who were hearing about bombs that didn't explode versus flames shooting out of a vehicle at a very busy airport in Scotland.
NEWTON: And, again, so far, what we're getting from police is that they still have no injuries reported, which is incredible when you see this scene because even haphazardly, you would have expected to see one or two people going through the entrance of that airport, a passer-by. I can tell you right there there's the taxi rink that kind of goes along the airport there. You could have had anyone injured, even someone lining up waiting for a taxi. If that does hold true, it's incredibly lucky no one was injured in all of this. The word we're getting from authorities on the ground is still they continue to investigate. Police in Scotland still not willing to classify this as a terrorist incident yet.
They're not saying that that's not what they'll call it in a few hours. They're saying they're unwilling to call it that right now. The Scottish authorities are still leading the investigation and trying to gather as much evidence as they can. Again, telling us they have no reports of any injuries so far. Two people in custody. It is unclear the injuries that one of those people sustained, which means that person will have to be taken to hospital or was taken to hospital before they will be able to be interviewed by police. This investigation continues, but, again, the authorities in Scotland unwilling at this point to actually label this terrorist incident, although that could still happen in the hours to come.
LONG: Paula, we know that all the flights have been suspended. The airport has been closed. What do we know about the flights that were en route to this airport?
NEWTON: Well, what they'll try to do now is try to divert the overload. You would have had planes in the sky. They need somewhere to go. There are lots of regional airports now in Britain, and they are international in nature, which means they can handle the larger planes. They can certainty handle the overflow traffic, not without some inconvenience, I'll add. But those planes will all land safely probably fairly close to Glasgow Airport. It will be more the departures that will be affected. Unfortunately, the character of a lot of the airlines going into the Glasgow Airport is that they are charter airlines, which means they don't have a lot of flexibility and they don't have a lot of excess capacity. So for anyone who had to travel in or out of Glasgow Airport, call whomever you were going to fly in or out of that airport and see what his or her contingency plans are. I imagine it would be quite chaotic for at least the next 24 hours to be going to that airport.
HOLMES: Paula, Scotland, why Scotland? Is there any reason, anything we've heard lately that or do you know how often is Scotland the target of attacks or a target of threats?
NEWTON: I'll put it out there, but it's absolute speculation. We do not have this confirmed. One source told us yesterday that one of the cars in London that was a car bomb was traced as being perhaps a car that was followed up as a stolen car from Scotland. Is that true? Does that have any link to this what so what ever? I have is absolutely no idea and investigators are still trying to piece that together. All I can say is this is not the first time in the last 24 hours that we've heard Scotland uttered. Again I have absolutely no concrete information on that, all I know is that police were looking at that as line of inquires. But as I pointed out before you whoever is responsible for this, whoever was in the vehicle is not necessarily you know going to come from Glasgow, we've seen that before in other terror attacks. I mean certainly the 77 bombers were not from London; they traveled upwards of two hours on a train to get to their final destination. If indeed this is what we this it is which a terrorist incident. It doesn't mean that Glasgow or Scotland are significant in any way, it could mean that this is just one of the latest places where someone was able to do some reconnaissance and where they felt that they could do possibility some damage.
LONG: We should point as well that the British airport authority has strict regulations about where people can drive at the airport so when you are looking at that fiery SUV that car is not even close to where it should have been.
NEWTON: You can see it now in the picture everyone has been seeing the canopy on the other side. That vehicle was on the other side of that canopy, one eyewitness said what that person did, who was driving the vehicle, apparently was speed up very quickly on that other side of the canopy and spin around into the other laneway, where the taxi's were waiting and then swung around and aimed straight ahead toward the door.
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