30th June 2007

Glasgow Airport comes under attack

Glasgow Airport came under attack on the afternoon of 30 June 2007 when two men drove a Jeep Cherokee into the front of the terminal building. The Jeep had been loaded with canisters of liquid propane, which were set alight with the intention of causing an explosion. Had this occurred within the building, it had the potential to cause significant structural damage and loss of life. The Jeep had also been carrying canisters of petrol, and nails.

However, the men didn’t manage to get the Jeep into the terminal itself as the entrance was obstructed by a row of security bollards, positioned to defend against precisely this kind of attack. They therefore resorted to other tactics. While one of the men began throwing petrol bombs from the vehicle, the other set himself alight and ran into the airport, where he was apprehended.

Packed terminal building

At the time of the attack, around 4000 people were inside the terminal building. Five members of the public were injured in the melee that followed, but none were killed. The airport was immediately closed and passengers on the ground were evacuated. However, those who had already boarded aircraft were left sitting on the runway for several hours until it was deemed safe to move them off.

“Just four days into his premiership, Gordon Brown was dealing with the most dangerous situation facing Britain since the attacks on London in July 2005,” wrote The Guardian on 1 July 2007. “Police and intelligence officers confirmed that there was a direct link between the Scottish attack and the attempted car bombing of London [the previous day].”

Perpetrators arrested

Both of the men who had been in the car were arrested at the scene, and a number of other arrests followed. These were primarily of staff working at hospitals, in both the UK and Australia.

One of the two men who had been in the car – Kafeel Ahmed, who had set himself on fire – died of his injuries more than a month later. On 3 August, the BBC reported that “the 27-year-old, from Bangalore, India, had suffered burns to 90% of his body when he was arrested.” Despite being in critical condition, he had been kept under armed guard while in the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley. His accomplice was tried and sentenced to imprisonment for life.

Was Glasgow a back-up?

In a tenth-anniversary retrospective, entitled ‘The day terror came to Glasgow Airport’, published online on 30 June 2017, the BBC said that the attack “appears to have been a response to the failure of two massive car bombs in London the day before”.

The broadcaster explained that the two men “had driven to London in two cars packed with gas canisters, petrol and thousands of nails… The plan was to detonate the bombs using a homemade device of a syringe full of matches and a mobile phone but the cars failed to explode and the attackers knew the police were on their trail. It was at this point that [they] decided to launch a suicide attack on Glasgow Airport.”



Other events that occured in June

FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.