GLASGOW, Scotland - British police yesterday raided buildings near Glasgow and in central England and made a fifth arrest in a hunt for al Qaeda-linked terrorists behind the fiery attack on the Scottish city’s airport and foiled car bombings in London.
He warned Britons that the threat would be “longterm and sustained” but said the country would not be cowed by the plot targeting Central London and Glasgow’s airport.
“We will not yield, we will not be intimidated, and we will not allow anyone to undermine our British way of life,” he said in a nationally televised interview.
A British government security official said a loose British-wide network appeared to be behind the attacks, but investigators were struggling to pin down suspects’ identities — even two arrested after they drove a Jeep Cherokee into Glasgow’s main airport terminal Saturday and set the vehicle ablaze.
“These are not the type of people who always carry identity documents, or who use their real identities,” the official said on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the inquiries. “Very little has been gleaned so far from the biological data.”
He said police and MI5, the internal security agency, did not know whether the suspects were born in Britain, from overseas or some combination of the two, and officials released few other details of the investigation.
Two men rammed the Jeep into the airport entrance, shattering the glass doors and igniting a raging fire. One of the suspects, reportedly shouting “Allah, Allah” with his body in flames after the attack, was taken to nearby Royal Alexandra Hospital, where police yesterday carried out a controlled explosion on a vehicle they said also could be linked to the plot.
On Friday, authorities thwarted coordinated bomb attacks in Central London after an ambulance crew outside a nightclub spotted smoke coming from a Mercedes that turned out to be rigged with gasoline, gas canisters and nails. A second Mercedes filled with explosives was found hours later in an impound lot, where it was towed for parking illegally.
“We are learning a great deal about the people involved in the attacks here in Glasgow and in the attempted attacks in Central London. The links between them are becoming ever clearer,” said Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism unit.
“I’m confident, absolutely confident, that in the coming days and weeks, we will be able to gain a thorough understanding of the methods used by the terrorists, the way in which they planned their attacks and the network to which they belong.”
Britain raised its terrorism alert to “critical” — the highest possible level — and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday that air marshals would be added to overseas flights.
“Al Qaeda has imported the tactics of Baghdad and Bali to the streets of the U.K.,” said John Stevens, Mr. Brown’s counterterrorism adviser, referring to the 2002 and 2005 attacks on the Indonesian resort island that killed more than 200 people and the daily car bombings in the Iraqi capital.
Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 was briefly closed last night after a suspect package was found but reopened once police confirmed the item was safe, authorities said.
Late Saturday, police arrested two persons — a 26-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman — on a highway in Cheshire, northern England, London’s Scotland Yard said. Yesterday, Staffordshire police said they also searched at least one home in nearby Newcastle-Under-Lyme.