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The airport was evacuated and all flights suspended. Flames and smoke rose from the Jeep outside the main entrance. Police said Liverpool Airport and roads around Edinburgh, Scotland, were also closed.

Lynsey McBean from Erskine, Scotland, who was at the terminal, said one of the men took out a plastic gasoline canister and poured a liquid under the car. “He then set light to it.” She said the Jeep struck the front door of the airport but got jammed.

The incident carried reminders of a foiled plot in December 1999 to attack Los Angeles International Airport, when customs agents stopped an Algerian-born man in a car packed with explosives. He was sentenced to 22 years, and prosecutors said he was intent on bombing the Los Angeles airport on the eve of the millennium.

Yesterday’s apparent attack left passengers shaken and stranded on the first day of summer vacation for Glasgow schools. At the time of the crash, the airport was bustling with families heading out on vacation.

Meanwhile in London, police were gathering evidence from closed-circuit television footage, as forensics specialists searched for clues into the foiled bombings. The two Mercedes were loaded with gasoline, gas canisters and nails in one of the capital’s busiest areas on a night when Londoners like to go out and party.

The vehicles were found abandoned in the early hours of Friday in what police think was an attempt to kill scores or even hundreds of people. Detectives said they were keeping an open mind about the perpetrators’ identities, but terrorism analysts said the signs pointed to a cell linked to or inspired by al Qaeda.

One car was abandoned outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub on Haymarket in the heart of London’s entertainment district. The other had been towed after being parked illegally on nearby Cockspur Street and was discovered in an impound lot about a mile away in Park Lane, near Hyde Park.

One former top British security official said she had no doubt the London and Glasgow incidents were connected.

“One has to conclude … these are linked,” Pauline Neville-Jones, former head of Britain’s joint intelligence committee, told Sky News television. “This is a very young government, and we may yet see further attacks. … We are seeing a pattern of attack in the early days of a new government.”

Mr. Brown came to office pledging to win back the support of voters disenchanted over the Iraq war. But he backed his predecessor Tony Blair’s decision to send troops to Iraq in 2003 and has shown support for greater anti-terror measures that have angered Britain’s estimated 1.8 million Muslims.