Return to Transcripts main page
CNN BREAKING NEWS
Terrorists Crashes SUV at Glasgow Airport
Aired June 30, 2007 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MELISSA LONG, CNN HOST: Police arrested two suspects, one of them himself was on fire. So far there are no reports of injuries. But here at home, the U.S. government has heightened security measures at airports nationwide. With the latest, let's get it now to CNN's Paula Newton, who has been with us throughout the day, bringing us little nuggets as we get the information. Hi, once again, Paula.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you. Just to recap, I just want to say at the top of the hour, we might have to break away here to get a statement that we believe is coming in the next few minutes from Prime Minister Gordon Brown. But in the mean time let's bring you up to date. Two people in custody now as you mentioned, sources close to the investigation telling CNN they are treating this now as a terrorist incident. They do believe it is linked to the two car bombs that were diffused here in London.
On that investigation, authorities saying that they have what they think are a fairly good I.D. of a suspect. They'll continue to try further enhancing the image to figure out who it was. They continue to chase out that investigation. Going back to the incident in Glasgow, related to what is going on with Gordon Brown's statement, they were mulling over as to whether or not to bring the terror alert in this country, the security alert from severe, the second highest where it is now to critical. Critical meaning that an attack is expected imminently that would significantly change the mood and tone in this country, going forward. We are now awaiting a briefing from Gordon Brown and we will bring that to you.
Again, a government severely tested and challenged right now. It only has been in office for 72 hours. The handover going from Prime Minister Tony Blair to Gordon Brown on Wednesday. He just basically had his new cabinet installed on Thursday. And here you have it, that cabinet now meeting to discuss and I want to point out, not just the terror threat but significant floods ongoing. And while perhaps not, you know, as the same kind of type of threat dealing with terror, but when you're dealing with a new government it will absolutely challenge them. Unprecedented floods going on now in England and more rain on the way. A lot on the government's plate right now.
LONG: Paula, in addition to terrorism, the significant flooding, as you mentioned a lot on the government's plate, you also have three major events going on this weekend. A difficult call likely for the cabinet and for the new prime minister about whether or not to cancel those events or postpone them.
NEWTON: Most definitely. Let's go through that. We have Wimbledon ongoing despite the rain. They had the tarps on there quite a bit. Wimbledon continues to go on. And that is a significant risk factor that they're dealing with. At the same time, the memorial concert, the Diana, Princess Diana memorial concert being put on by Prince William and Prince Harry supposed to be going on tomorrow at a large stadium, they're at the stadium to check on arrangements now. Security of course being heightened for those events. If we talk about the security threat, though, being raised from severe to critical, it gives the government much more leeway to do what they have to do in terms of severely restricting access to those events and in terms of how close vehicles can get to a stadium. The kind of checks that have to go on.
But perhaps if they really feel they have to canceling those events, I know the government will consider that very carefully, they will not want to have to do that unless they feel that there really is an imminent threat here. But, again it will be quite, it will change the mood here in London. As I said, I've been out on the streets for hours before this incident. And everyone really shrugs off the two car bombs that were diffused. If you change the threat level and then start canceling events, people are going to be going home looking at the images of this car burning, Glasgow Airport, realizing it is a terrorist incident it will continue to cause a lot of disquiet here in Britain.
LONG: Paula Newton live from London. Paula thank you so much. As Paula mentioned, we are waiting for a news conference, waiting to hear from the new prime minister. Again, just in office, some 72 hours, Gordon Brown, as soon as he makes that statement, we'll bring it to you live here on CNN.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in the U.S., the terror threat level has not been raised. It is still a level of orange. But there is going to be stepped up security at American airports. Let's go now to our Jeanne Meserve who is standing by in Washington.
MESERVE: Susan one quick correction, the threat level is at yellow. Only aviation is at orange. It has been at orange in aviation since the liquid plot of about a year ago. But the White House announcing today that, yes, they are going to be sending out alertness packages to airports around the country, urging them to increase security, particularly as it relates to perimeters of airports.
I've been in discussion with a couple of airport people. They say that the kinds of things you're likely to see are increases in canine patrols, more uniformed officers, more vehicle searches and at some airports, you probably also will be seeing -- won't be seeing actually some more undercover officers and they may be concentrating more on high concern international flights. But no increase in the threat level for airports or for the nation at this point in time. Officials have been saying they don't see any specific credible threat relating to the United States. But the investigation is still unfolding. Situations can change. We are expecting. have been expecting a statement any moment from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a written statement, which might give us more information. We haven't gotten it yet. When we get it, we'll bring it to you. ROESGEN: So far though Jeanne you haven't heard anything from your security analyst there, your experts there that would in any way link what is happening in Great Britain to what might happen in this country, no thought of any sort of terrorist activity related to that here, right?
MESERVE: They say no, no indication of any threat here. But, of course, intelligence is an imperfect science. And it is always possible that things are going on that they do not know about. And so they have chosen to take these steps here in the United States out of an abundance of caution because they don't want to be accused of not doing due diligence, a precautionary step at this point in time.
ROESGEN: OK, thank you, Jeanne Meserve reporting live for us in Washington. With these two straight days of terrorist incidents in Britain, it does have a ripple effect here in this country. When the fourth of July approaching, a lot of people traveling, we are going to see as Jeanne mentioned the heightened security at major U.S. airports. CNN's Jim Acosta is live for us at La Guardia in New York.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Susan. Yes, it looks like just a regular holiday weekend here in New York City. At La Guardia Airport where we're standing now. You see all of the cars lined up in front of this departure drop off area here at the American Airlines section of La Guardia airport. And just car after car after car as if what is happening in Glasgow right now has basically zero effect on what is happening in the United States from a practical standpoint. Yes, we have heard from Jeanne Meserve that security is being beefed up a notch at airports across the United States. But that doesn't necessarily mean at this point that we're going to see scores and droves of passengers being inconvenienced.
One thing that we did see, just a few moments ago, we saw the NYPD Hercules Unit pull up here at the terminal at the airport. That is something that did occur this afternoon as a result of this security being beefed up. We did talk to one NYPD officer who say part of that Hercules Unit. And he did tell us that they were on a routine patrol around the streets of Manhattan and were diverted to the airport because of what is going on right now. So a modest up tick in security. Perhaps things here at the airport being affected somewhat. But this is not a drastic change in terms of security that you see here at La Guardia and certainly in previous experiences, such as that transatlantic plot. We saw much longer lines as a result of that incident as opposed to what is happening now as I was just showing you a few moments ago. A car after car after car lined up here at the terminal. No major measurable change here at the airport. We'll have to see as the day progresses.
ROESGEN: Yes it could change. Thanks, Jim Acosta, reporting live from us there from La Guardia. LONG: This is being called a terrorist incident and a terrorist attack or not, it will have an impact on Glasgow and beyond. Josh Levs is here now to talk to about the significance to the airport, the people of Britain to the U.S. and worldwide.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is having ripple effects every where, and I tell you we are going to pull out of this if we hear from the prime minister. It is striking to me. I can't remember the last time I heard of someone facing trial by fire. You got a brand new prime minister, a brand new cabinet and flames at the airport. It is amazing. What she's saying here applies very much to this airport. This place has ripple effects all over the world. So what we want to do is help you get a sense. You might be wondering is this a huge major airport or more like the kind of airport that most Americans have in cities near them?
Now you know we don't know what today's intention was. We do know some important facts about this location that has now suddenly drawn the attention of the whole world. This is the busiest of three airports in Scotland. It serves 8.8 million passengers a year it has 265 takeoffs or landings each day, including some nonstop flights to the U.S. So we're talking, folks, about a major international airport and I'll tell you, the impact of this incident is already international. Not only because it is leading many airports to step up their security, but also because some people who had flights to other countries including the United States -- some people have already been affected in these other countries.
LONG: More than 8 million people traveling in and out of this airport. The busiest in Scotland. There must be significant economic ramifications.
LEVS: Yes. And that's another important factor here because as you know, one major question all day long has been is this a terrorist attack or is it not? Terrorists very often look for economic engines. Airports are economic engines of their communities. And you know if this is an attack, it is something that terrorists often do seek out. Places of economic value. So it is an economic impact to an incident like this. Lets tell you what we do know about that, this airport says it's economic contribution each year, $1.4 billion and $600 million in investment over the next ten years.
Also, this is just weeks ago, the airport just recently announced it was beginning work on a major expansion project for a brand new hub which the airport is calling the biggest investment by the British Aviation Authority in Glasgow in a generation. And the airport employees more than 5,000 people. So it is too soon now to know how this incident itself could play out. But clearly what we know now is this site; today that we're learning about has tremendous economic value to the region and to Britain as a whole and to travelers all over the world. It is a key site. Not, you know, simply random. It is a key site in that respect.
LONG: I think most people think of Heathrow Airport when they think of flying in and out of the UK. But it is a major airport. LEVS: I mean if you're going further north, down in London, if you need to stop off in Scotland to get wherever you're going or if you're traveling to Scotland this is the number one place that people would go.
LONG: Josh Levs, thanks so much.
LEVS: You got it, thanks.
LONG: Of course we have been following this story throughout the day and we will continue to do so.
ROESGEN: Ahead coming up IN THE NEWSROOM, much more on this airport attack in Glasgow, Scotland. We'll be talking to a security expert and we will check on more of an effect possibly in airports here in the U.S.
Also a follow-up on the foiled London car bombs. And increased police presence there now in London.
And flooding rains in Oklahoma and Texas. And more storms are expected in the middle of the country. So stay with CNN.
LONG: Quarter past the hour on this Saturday, 8:15 in the evening in the UK. and terror strikes at the heart of the UK for a second straight day. Investigators are trying to find the suspects behind yesterday's foiled car bomb plot in London.
And today two people are in custody after an apparent attack on the Glasgow International Airport. That was earlier today, just a few hours ago. An SUV was driven right into that building where it burst into flames. We'll bring you the latest on this developing story as soon as we get it.
President Bush is following the developments in Glasgow. He is in Kennebunkport, Maine, preparing for his Fourth of July holidays. Also awaiting the arrival of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin is expected to visit with the president tomorrow in Maine. Ed Henry is traveling with the president and joins us now live.
HENRY: Hello Melissa. That's right. In a post 9/11 worlds, it is a fact of life for the U.S. President; you're never really fully on vacation. White House spokesman Tony Snow saying today that the president has been briefed several times on the situations both in London and Glasgow. And in fact, Snow saying the president was briefed before, during and after an early morning bike ride. How did doe that? He has a national security council aide monitoring both situations who then passes on that information to a military aide who is by the president's side at all times whether he's biking, boating, or the like.
After that bike ride, the president went back to the family compound near here at Walker's Point. He was briefed again on both situations when he got home. Then he headed out on the boat for some fishing. And, again, have been getting reports throughout the day. Tony Snow emphasizing that while the U.s. government has decided not to lift the threat level all around the United States at this point, they are, as you heard from Jeanne Meserve, lifting the Transportation Security Administration assessments on the ground. And essentially beefing up police presence outside airports all around the country.
LONG: Let me ask you ahead of tomorrow's visit, by Vladimir Putin, actually I'll talk to you a little later. Let's check in with CNN's Paula Newton she has some breaking news.
NEWTON: As we were reporting on CNN, it has happened, the British government has now raised the threat level from severe, which is the second highest, to critical, critical means that the British government believes that an attack is expected imminently this will change things significantly for a lot of different things going on in this country now. Of course, it means stepped up security. It could also mean the cancellation of some events. We have just been talking about Wimbledon ongoing and the Princess Diana memorial concert that is supposed to take place tomorrow. More than that, though, it will be a clear message to people here in Britain that this maybe is not over yet.
And that the British government fully expects there to be more attacks. You have to take this on face value. We are awaiting at the moment a comment by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He, of course, is going to have to explain this to the country and give reasons for why he's decided to elevate the threat level. It was, for quite a while, at severe. They have five stages in this country. It is kind of similar and parallels the color-coded alerts that we have in the United States. But we were at severe. Severe means an attack is highly likely. Now going to critical. An attack is expected imminently. When he's in these meetings and he's just taking advice from an emergency response meeting, called Cobra, he'll have the head of domestic intelligence, he'll have the head of foreign intelligence, both mi5 and mi6 respectively, they'll give them their best advice.
At the same time, he'll have gotten an update from Scotland Yard, the very latest about what they know about the investigation into the two car bombs in London and the investigation ongoing in Glasgow. Based on all of that evidence, they have decided to elevate the threat level. At this point in time, as I say, we're waiting for some type of explanation from him and we may hear more from him in terms of what this will actually mean for the British public.
ROESGEN: Paula, it is Susan Roesgen here in the CNN Center with Melissa Long. Have definitively linked this attack just today in Glasgow to the two diffused car bombs in London?
NEWTON: Sources close to the investigation certainly tell CNN that that is what has happened. Police have not confirmed that publicly. Nor has the prime minister and his government. But CNN has learned that they are linking what happened in Glasgow to the two car bombs that were diffused in London. That doesn't necessarily mean it is part of the exact same plot. It could just be a copycat attack.
But what the evidence that they have already gathered from that scene tells them that this incident was a similar enough to them in terms of perhaps involving fuel, canisters, whatever else, that they have decided that it is all of it linked and we had many security experts on CNN in the last 24 hours saying, look, we expect this to come in waves and we expect this to be a concerted attack to raise the alarm in Britain and definitely send a message. As this government is handed over from Prime Minister Tony Blair to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
ROESGEN: But, Paula, there have been no claims of responsibility on the Internet or in any other sources, right?
NEWTON: None and that didn't trickle out after the London Transit attacks, that didn't trickle out until much later on, weeks and months in fact. That's not unusual. One thing they can't do definitively now is link it specifically to al Qaeda. A lot of the groups we have seen here are al Qaeda inspired. As hard as investigators have tried over the years to link any of the threats or the attacks or the plots here in Britain directly to al Qaeda, in most instances they have not been able to come up with a concrete link. Some people have been trained in Pakistan. They have evidence of that. And yet they can't always, you know, really link it too an al Qaeda commander or al Qaeda plot. Definitely the language they use is al Qaeda-inspired.
LONG: Paula back to the news that the UK decided to raise that terror alert level to the critical, the highest level. You said, of course this will force the government to decide what to do about the events going on this weekend, the gay pride parade, and the memorial concert for the late Princess Diana. What does this mean on a daily basis for residents of London, from now through tomorrow morning, for the security level? And when is the last time we saw this heightened security at the highest level in the UK?
NEWTON: The security levels, in fact, are new in terms of the actual staging. And also they -- in terms of making those security levels public, believe it or not, it is a fairly recent development. Enough to say, though, that after the July 7th events and the events that succeeded that in terms of the July 21st copycat event here in the city as well, that that was the threat level at that time. It has been almost two years since the threat level was at this level here in Britain.
Now, having said that, at this point in time, when you look at those events ongoing, police will determine whether or not they feel they can secure those events. Nothing is 100 percent. But they will give their best advice to the government and say, look, we feel we can keep people safe at these events and go forward. I can tell you what it means for most people in Britain and significantly people in London are a lot of inconvenience, a lot of spot checks in terms of security. You can expect more closures at train stations, more security precautions in airports. It is basically whatever the security authorities deem to have to happen at that time. That means that that is done. And it doesn't matter if that means flights are delayed. It doesn't matter if it means people are delayed or inconveniences or businesses have to shut down. They will do everything they can to prevent an attack that they say now they believe is imminent.
LONG: Paula Newton live from London. Paula, thank you.
Well coming up, any alert in Britain is an alert here in the U.S. as well this is the fiery car crash that set it off today in Glasgow, Scotland. The police now say that, yes, they do believe this was a terrorist attack. And they do believe there is a connection to that attack and the two attempted car bombings in London.
What is the latest from American officials? What is the U.S. response in Washington? We'll have the answer just ahead in THE NEWSROOM.
ROESGEN: The terror alert in Britain is now as high as it gets and British authorities say that means that another terrorist incident in Great Britain is imminent. We have fresh information now from Jeanne Meserve in Washington, our correspondent there from our own Homeland Security Department, from Michael Chertoff.
MESERVE: Susan we have been talking about increases in aviation security, the secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff has just put out a statement indicating there will also be increases in mass transit and security at other transportation facilities. This just issued written statement says in part, at this point I have seen no specific credible information suggesting that this latest incident is connected to a threat to the homeland. He's referring to the incident in Glasgow, there. We have no plans at this time to change the national threat level. We remind everyone that the aviation threat level has risen to orange since last fall, the point at which there was a liquid explosive threat against airlines.
The Department of Homeland Security and FBI officials have been monitoring the investigation in Europe. They have been participating, offering help and it says here that they also will be providing guidance to state and local homeland security officials and law enforcement partners about what has been happening overseas and what measures they should be taking here. We know that yesterday a bulletin went out that was specific to truck bombs. It gave pointers on how to recognize those and steps that might be taken to mitigate them. But, again, today we're hearing from Secretary Chertoff that there will also be increased security at airports, mass transit and other transportation facilities. At some airports, you're beginning to see some of this increased vehicle checks, more canine teams, more uniformed officers and more undercover officers as well.
Susan. ROESGEN: Jeanne you know it seems look a broad task to try to protect every transportation hub, every train, every airport. As Secretary Chertoff said anything about how they will try to do this?
MESERVE: There are no specifics he lays out here. But we do know from what we have seen during previous episodes and also from conversations with aviation officials that you're likely to see canine teams not only at the airport, but perhaps on some of the subways. We know that in places like New York they have sometimes put uniformed police on more of the subway cars to simply show a presence. That's the kind of thing I think you're going to seeing over the next few days. Particularly around major city airports and around mass transit at major cities.
ROESGEN: Jeanne, you know, the initial response to this from Washington was, well, you know this is something happening in Great Britain, we're monitoring it but we don't believe there is any concern for us in the U.S. in the last few hours we have seen apparently the reaction to this the concern go up quite a bit, wouldn't you agree?
MESERVE: Yeah, I mean they're still saying we have no specific credible information here. But there is an unfolding investigation going on in Great Britain they are looking at those cars that they discovered yesterday. What they found inside them, they are looking at the closed-circuit television cameras. Officials in this country and Britain and probably elsewhere are going back over their signals, intelligence, combing through it, see if there was anything they had missed. They're putting pieces together. And one can only assume that that investigation, plus today's events in Glasgow where you had this event where someone tried to ram a flaming vehicle into an airline terminal has heightened the level of concern here. Even if they don't have specific information yet.
ROESGEN: Yes, Jeanne, Barbara Starr mentioned something earlier in our coverage. She said speaking of the Pentagon that this doesn't seem to have the marks of an al Qaeda attack, the Glasgow car bomb there. And when you don't have that sort of al Qaeda connection, if it is a home grown as we call it a home grown terrorist group or some sort of loosely linked group in Great Britain that would seem even tougher to trace their connection to anything that might be happening in this country. If it doesn't have an immediate claim of responsibility from al Qaeda.
MESERVE: Well, you're right. We're dealing with home grown terrorism. Someone said to me it is like cancer that metastasized. Instead of seeing instruction and communications coming from one central place, out to cells around the world, instead you have these very tiny little units cropping up here and there. They may not know about one another. They may not even be taking formal instruction from anywhere else. So, there is much less opportunity to intercept, much less opportunity to detect what they're doing.
Of course, they've seen a fair amount of this in Britain. We have seen much less in the United States, but it has been a growing concern. As you well know, there have been a couple of terror plots broken up recently which have involved Americans or people living in America. There has been a great deal of study of radicalization in this country, particularly when it comes to prisons. The Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing this week of radicalization in this country.
So, even though they aren't comparing it to Britain, they think the Muslim community here is much more integrated into society, much more invested in the U.S. way of life. There still is concern that there are people who are disaffected, who are listening to what is being said in other countries, who are reading what is being said on the Internet, getting instruction over the Internet, and maybe determined to wreak havoc here.
ROESGEN: Absolutely, Jeanne. Thank you for that update from the Homeland Security Department, there in Washington.
LONG: Let's continue to talk about the decision by the department of Homeland Security, again, not raising the U.S. threat level. In contrast, thought, to the decision in the U.K., to raise a level to critical, let's bring in Peter Bergen a terrorism analyst.
Peter, I had an opportunity to speak to you a little earlier. Thanks, again, for your time.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Pleasure.
LONG: When we spoke earlier, you said it is unlikely to see these kinds of attacks in the U.S. Why is that?
BERGEN: Well, I mean, as Jeanne was pointing out, the American- Muslim population is better educated than the average Americans. They have higher incomes, quite well integrated, the American dream is really worked for the American-Muslim population. They don't live in ghettos as they do in many European countries. You know, the British situation is very, very different.
You know, the British government saying that they're are tracking up to 2,000 sort of militants with al Qaeda-like connections or ideas. The head of the Domestic Intelligence Service in Britain has talked of up to 30 serious plots that link back to al Qaeda and Pakistan that she was ware of when she spoke in a speech in November.
So, it is just a very different situation. The kinds of plots that we've seen in the United States have been mostly wanna-bes, you know, there was this plan -- these guys were talking about attacking JFK Airport, but it was just talk, it wasn't crashing a car into JFK Airport, as happened today in Glasgow.
There was also a group of guys in Miami talking about bombing federal buildings in Miami. But, again, it was basically just talk. They didn't have weapons, they didn't have explosives and the only case that I can think of, right now, that really rises to the level of the sort of thing we're seeing in Britain is a case which -- has unfolded in Torrance, California, has yet to go to trial, but the allegation is that a group of guys in Torrance, California who did get radicalized in prison, in part, planned to attack synagogues and U.S. military bases in southern California. Now these guys did have weapons, they did have a plan. They were knocking off gas stations to support themselves. But that example is more the -- more of the exception that proves the rule. In Britain, we've seen multiple, multiple cases of British citizens trying to do, you know, suicide attacks on American Airlines, as we saw in the summer of 2006, a plan to bring down 10 American airliners that would have involved British citizens committing suicide in the process. Lucky that was averted.
But that would have been a 9/11-style event. And if you look that -- that, by the way, was directed by al Qaeda from Pakistan. There's two interesting things about that plan. One was that they selected the hardest target imaginable, commercial aviation, they still wanted to hit -- you know, do these big targets, they don't want to blow up malls in Iowa, they want to, you know, JFK -- attack New York, Washington, Los Angeles or attack commercial aviation.
And the other interesting thing about that plot is it took place in Britain. Al Qaeda realized that to attack the United States, it actually would have to do it outside the United States because it doesn't have the people in the United States to mount these kinds of operations. It does have the people in Britain, however.
LONG: Let's talk about what has happened in Britain, particularly focus on yesterday, though, the thwarted bombings involving the two cars, did not involve airplanes, it wasn't -- it wasn't that significant, but at the same time, the materials in the cars have been described as a goldmine because they have could have done significant damage.
BERGEN: Yeah, I mean, they were looking to do a mass casualty attack, it appears, and it's basically it's reminiscent of two plans that al Qaeda has had in the past. One was a plan, which luck was averted in London in 200 in "Operation Crevice," that's what the British police called it. Five young British Muslim men had -- none of whom had gardens, had acquired 1,300 pounds of fertilizer to turn into bombs. And one of their targets was going to be a major in London nightclub called The Ministry of Sound.
Now, similarly yesterday we had the planned attack, it would have gone out -- would have killed a lot of people in that nightclub called Tiger Tiger. Another element that is sort of reminiscent of other al Qaeda plans is the so-called "Gas Limousines Project," which a British-Pakistani Muslim who's now imprisoned in Britain, circulated, widely within al Qaeda, which is basically to get three limousines and put a lot of gas, propane tanks and blow them up in an underground parking garage. And that, again, we saw this idea of cars packed with propane gas that will blow up and kill a lot of people.
So these sort of -- these plans have been circulating within al Qaeda. We don't know if these guys involved in these attacks were members of al Qaeda or had affiliations with al Qaeda, but we will know more about that in the future. But, I would be quite surprised if it turns out that at least one of the -- it seems me that it is plausible that whoever is the ringleader of this operation, probably went to Pakistan for training with al Qaeda. LONG: All right. Of course, that answer may come out, hopefully, in the coming days. Peter Bergen, our terrorism analyst. Peter, thank you, again.
BERGEN: Thank you.
ROESGEN: And coming up, we'll have much more analysis of the Glasgow incident today and the security situation coming up at American airports.
London police are scouring the security video trying to find out who was behind the foiled car bombs plot uncovered on Friday. We'll have the very latest for you. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN "Breaking News."
LONG: Good afternoon. If you are just turning on the television, we're following breaking news today for you out of Glasgow, Scotland. It was earlier today that an SUV, -- this SUV, traveled at a relatively high speed, according to witnesses, into that terminal, terminal one of Scotland's busiest airport. More than eight million people use that airport every year.
Well, as a precaution now, also linked to the thwarted bombing in London yesterday, the government has decided to raise the terror level to the highest level possible in the U.K. The level is now critical. There are five stages in the U.K. system. Now, it is important to point out in the U.S. the Department of Homeland Security has no plans to raise the U.S. threat level. However if you plan to be traveling over the next couple of days, you will likely notice some small changes at our airports in order to beef up the security. But, again no plans to raise the U.S. terror level. In contrast the U.K. led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, just 72 hours now in his new appointment, has decided to raise a terror aleft lerl to the highest level of critical.
ROESGEN: And we have been watching that car on fire, the SUV on fire in the front terminal of the Glasgow Airport. Two suspects there, both apprehended. One apparently critically burned. We'll get more information on that and some more information on the broader picture now from CNN Radio reporter Louise Wright -- Louise.
Well, we had hoped to get...
LOUISE WRIGHT, CNN RADIO: ...11 minutes past 3:00, British Time -- a Cherokee Jeep car was driven into terminal one. Now, this vehicle was loaded with petrol, it burst into flames and now we have a major security operation. I'm joined now by John Smidgen (ph), who's an airport employee.
John, bring us up to date with what you saw earlier on this afternoon.
JOHN SMIDGEN (PH), AIRPORT EMPLOYEE: Well, I was out for a cigarette and I heard a commotion, a noise, people screaming. So I walked around the corner to see what's happening and to my left, I seen a Jeep Cherokee and the front (INAUDIBLE) the rear of the vehicle is on fire. There was a man come out the passenger side of the vehicle. And as he's getting out of the vehicle, policemen has been running over to assist the man came straight towards the policeman and started punching the policeman.
So, it made me think there's an attack. So, I just ran straight down, tried to get (INAUDIBLE) the guy other members of the public had done the same thing as myself. We all ran towards him and meanwhile there was a guy lying in the driver's seat of the vehicle, lying face down, covered head to toe in flame -- head to toe in flame. And one of the other members of the public, he got hit by the assailant and he ended up going over and breaking his leg, lying quite close to the burning car.
And me and a female member of security started to move him and needed assistance moving him (INAUDIBLE) to assist moving that gentleman away from the bomb -- away from any closeness of the burning vehicle. We've got (INAUDIBLE) and have turned down the man has been burning has got up. As the police come and assist him, a taxi drivers ended up running over our fire extinguisher and I hosed him down and as he's hosed down he's got out and as the police men are coming up to him, the guys try to go for the policemen.
You know, but the police subdued him, because the guy was in no fair state to do anything. And then, as far as I know the police -- then (INAUDIBLE) I just know that (INAUDIBLE) there was a lot of people about him and the police (INAUDIBLE) out. So, he was subdued and then the fire brigade appeared and the boat -- the vehicle was (INAUDIBLE) explosions, there was like small blow torches coming out, gas was being released, maybe I'm wrong there and a...
WRIGHT: So, really very dramatic. OK, and just very briefly, what happened to the vehicle? Was it engulfed in flames?
SMIDGEN: It was engulfed in flames and the (INAUDIBLE) above it, took hold, the flames (INAUDIBLE) above it (INAUDIBLE) above (INAUDIBLE).
WRIGHT: John, thank you very much, indeed.
As we said, security alert in Britain has been raised to critical. There's a major security operation here at Glasgow Airport. I can tell you that the man with burns has been taken to a local hospital which I'm told has been partially evacuated. The other individual has been taken to Scotland's top security police station.
Live from Glasgow Airport, back to you.
OK. Louise Wright, there reporting live for us -- Melissa.
LONG: We, of course, have been waiting to hear from the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, in office just 72 hour. He has now had an opportunity to speak following his emergency response meeting. Let's listen now to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON BROWN, BRITISH: PRIME MINISTER: I just have come from a meeting with the police and with the security services and with the home secretary and government ministers. And let me first of all thank the police, security services, all the emergency services, for the dedicated professions 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 of 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: A brief statement by the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, saying, again, first duty is the security and safety of the British people. And it is right, therefore, to raise the terror alert levels there are five stages within the terror alert level in the U.K., it has now been raised to its highest which is critical. Again, in contrast, however, the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. has not decided to move the level at any point -- excuse me, at this point -- Susan.
ROESGEN: And now we want to go back to our CNN correspondent in London, Paula Newton, whom we understand has some new information for us -- Paula?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Sources close to the investigation tell CNN two critical things. The first, and we're waiting on this for confirmation from police and the hospital, but one of the two suspects arrested in that incident, at Glasgow Airport has died, succumbed to his injuries and he has died apparently in hospital.
We have not had confirmation from police or hospital about that, we await that in a briefing in about 40 minutes, but right now, sources close to the investigation telling CNN they understand that one of the suspects, who was arrested today from that incident, Glasgow Airport, has died. We have many eyewitness reports saying that he was badly burned and taken away from the scene. He was then taken to a hospital. We then had some very interesting reports saying that that hospital was evacuated. We were able to rule that out because we got a hold of people at that hospital.
In the meantime, sources close to the investigation say that as he was taken to that hospital, in that hospital, that he did in fact die.
In the meantime, as well, if we link the incident from Glasgow, to those two bombs that were diffused in London, police now definitively, definitively linking those two car bombs in London to the incident in Glasgow. They say that those two car bombs found in London, they can now trace both of those vehicles back to Glasgow. They are Scottish, they say, in origin -- Susan.
ROESGEN: Paula, what do we know about the nationalities of the suspects? Any eyewitness or any sources told us who these guys might be, where they might be from?
NEWTON: Absolutely not. I mean, we certainly do assume they're British and what we have seen here is that there are people that are most likely born here. They were, by at least, two eyewitness described as Asian males, Asian males mean here perhaps coming from Pakistan, from India, from Sri Lanka, that's when they say Asian, they don't necessarily mean, you no he, from China, let's say, or from Japan, they mean from Pakistan, at least when you get an eyewitness account, that's what you assume they mean. But, we cannot confirm that at all and nothing like that being discussed by authorities right now.
ROESGEN: Paula, you talked about the cars involved and the link between them coming from Scotland. Are there other stolen cars out there that the authorities are now trying to trace that they think might be involved in another attack?
NEWTON: No, they've already traced those two vehicles to Scotland, that is done with. They will now take a look at vehicles. But that's pretty much a needle in a haystack. They will continue to do what they have to do under this new threat level, which is, as they say now, critical. And that means that they can stop cars randomly if they feel they need to. Ticket and tow cars very, very quickly if they think there is any risk. This will be in a completely different security environment, not just in London, but throughout Britain. People will begin to really feel the implications of this.
You know, the government describes that maximum protective security measures will be imposed in order to meet specific threats. They also say they will not tell the public what those are ahead of time and the reason is that they don't want to tip off terrorists to exactly what they're going to be doing, when, because they don't want to hand out too much information. And as you heard from the prime minister, Gordon Brown, saying people to be vigilant.
You know, I don't know this has any significance whatsoever, but I just pointed out for people who don't realize this perhaps, is that the prime minister himself, Gordon Brown, is Scottish. Now, that may be a link, it may not be a link. I'm just throwing it out there. The other thing you assume from looking at the prime minister from this statement, of course, very grave, very serious, very tired. I can tell you I've been watching this man on and off. I have never quite seen him that exhausted. And you can see, as I said that this is reaching -- this is quite a national emergency. They've not reached the threat level. They have two ongoing and separate terror investigations and then on top of that, the floods continue, here in this country.
ROESGEN: OK, thank you, Paula Newton for that update. We'll check back in with you I'm sure for the next few hours -- Melissa.
LONG: The apparent terrorist attacks in Great Britain renude public concern about Muslim extremists. The British government is trying to use terrorism laws to fight such extremism, yet the movement survives. CNN's Special Investigations Unit is taking a closer look at THE WAR WITHIN. Here is Christiane Amanpour with a preview.
ANGEM CHOUDRY (PH), ISLAMIC EXTREMIST: One day you will conquer wrong (ph). One day -- one day, you will conquer the White House.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Angem Chaudry is the public face of Islamic extremism in Britain. His group, Amwar Jaroon (ph) disbanded before the British government could outlaw it under its new anti-terrorism rules, but that hasn't shut Chaudry up.
CHAUDRY: (INAUDIBLE) Islam (INAUDIBLE) capital punishment.
AMANPOUR: That Chaudry's inflammatory rhetoric just days after Pope Benedict's controversial speech about Islam.
CHAUDRY: Pope Benedict, you will pay.
CROWD: Pope Benedict you will pay.
CHAUDRY: The Mujahidin are on their way.
CROWD: The Mujahidin are on their way.
AMANPOUR: Outside Westminster Cathedral, British Catholics looked on in disbelief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can stand outside our church and abuse us and abuse our religion and abuse people that we hold dear with absolute impunity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The simple question to the Christians is do you condemn what the pope said?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't condemn...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you condemn the pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no? Do you condemn the pope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If any of us was to amble up to the mosque at Regions Park, and said anything in regards to Allah or Mohammed or what have you, best case scenario, be take away by the police for inciting racial hatred, worst case scenario, attacked by a bunch of thugs with tea towels on their heads.
CHANTING: Democracy hypocrisy. Democracy hypocrisy.
AMANPOUR: Even way from the bully pulpit, Chaudry, who is a lawyer not a cleric, continues to advocate extremist views, like calling for Shria (ph), Islamic law for Britain.
CHAUDRY: All of the world belongs to Allah. And we will live according the to Shria (INAUDIBLE), this is a fundamental belief of the Muslims. You know, if I was to go to the jungle tomorrow, I'm not going to live like animals.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Basically, a lot of what you're saying is it's my way or the highway. I mean, how does that kind of logic fit into a democratic state like the one we live in now, like the one you live in. You live here by choice. Do you not believe in democracy?
CHAUDRY: No, I don't at all. We believe that people must live according to the Shria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LONG: And you can see more this weekend on CNN's Special Investigations Unit, THE WAR WITHIN, tonight and tomorrow 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
LONG: And here's what's happening now in the news. Great anxiety in Great Britain as British government raises the terror level to critical, its highest level, which means more terrorist attacks are imminent. The police now believe that yesterday's failed bomb plot of two parked cars, packed with explosives, is linked to what happened today in Glasgow, Scotland.
ROESGEN: Now, two people are in custody for today's incident at Glasgow International Airport. Actually the latest development now that one of the suspects died en route to the hospital. It happened after a flaming SUV crashed into that airport's terminal where it then exploded.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com