International

Botched U.K. Terror Attacks Planned Outside Britain

July 06, 2007 11:51 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Recent London and Glasgow plots were overseen by an international mastermind, say investigators; such low-tech attacks are a foretaste of future terrorism, according to U.S. experts.

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Seven of the eight suspects arrested in connection with the failed bombings are doctors. All entered the U.K. legally and were working in some capacity for Britain’s National Health Service.

In the first incident, on Friday July 29, two cars containing crude but potentially lethal gas bombs were discovered in central London in the early morning.

The next day, two men believed to have positioned those cars drove a burning jeep into a terminal of Scotland's Glasgow Airport. This attempted suicide attack went awry when the vehicle, filled with gas canisters, failed to explode.

British counterterrorism officers said they are tracing a foreign-based “guiding hand” believed to have overseen the U.K. terrorist cell. Investigators have declined to identify that mastermind.

The attacks coincide with Gordon Brown’s first week as British prime minister. Brown is a Glasgow native, a fact that leads many commentators to suspect that the plots were intended to send a message to the new U.K. premier.

Some terrorism experts surmise that these low-tech bombings are a foretaste of what America may experience in future terrorist actions.

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Key Players

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

The 56-year-old son of a Scottish priest, Brown went to Edinburgh University at only 16 and left with one of the best degrees in decades. He became an MP in 1983 and Chancellor of the Exchequer, the term for the British cabinet minister for finance, on May 2, 1997.
John Smeaton

Scottish baggage handler John Smeaton took on one of the terrorists at the Glasgow Airport terminal on June 30. His willingness to tackle a burning suicide bomber has made him a national hero.

Background

Operation Rhyme

The failed attacks of last week have been compared to a recent plot hatched in Britain that was foiled by Scotland Yard’s “Operation Rhyme.” The conspirators planned to destroy buildings in London and New York by detonating limousines packed with explosives.
Fertilizer Bomb Plot

Five British men were jailed for life in April 2007 for planning to plant bombs made from fertilizer at a shopping center in the south of England and at the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London. Comparisons have since been drawn between the targets of that plot and the recent attempted attack on June 29, 2007, which also involved a bomb attack on a nightclub.
Transatlantic Airliner Attacks

Islamic extremists in Britain plotted to blow up seven airliners flying between Britain and New York with liquid explosives hidden in hand luggage. Their plans were foiled in August 2006, with the arrest of 24 suspects, most of whom were British citizens of Pakistani origin.
July 7

Fifty-two people died and hundreds were injured on July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers detonated devices on the subway and on a bus in London. It was the first suicide bombing in Western Europe.
July 7 Copy-Cats

Four men were convicted on July 9, 2007 of attempting to replicate the London subway attacks of 2005 only two weeks after that terrorist bombing killed 52 people. The copy-cat plot was derailed when the makeshift bombs failed to explode. The trial continues while the jury considers the accusations made against another two men charged of the same crimes.

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