LONDON (AP) – An explosive-laden Jeep was halted only meters away from airline passengers at Glasgow airport last year when two men attempted a suicide attack as part of a plot to bomb London and Scotland, a prosecutor told a court on Friday.
Two men inside the sport utility vehicle, which they had set on fire, hurled petrol bombs and repeatedly attempted to ram their way into an airport terminal during an attempted terrorist strike in June, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said.
Laidlaw said driver Kafeel Ahmed was engulfed in flames as he emerged from the Jeep and attempted to hurl petrol bombs at the terminal. Ahmed later died in hospital from severe burns.
Many details of the case were outlined publicly for the first time by Laidlaw after Kafeel’s brother, Sabeel Ahmed, pleaded guilty to an offense of withholding information about the attacks from British authorities. The Indian-born doctor will be sentenced later Friday.
Two other men are due to go on trial over the attacks in October.
A day before the attempted attack in Glasgow, two Mercedes packed with gas canisters were discovered in London’s entertainment district. Around 500 people were evacuated from a nightclub after one of the cars was discovered outside.
Laidlaw said the men attempted the suicide attack at Glasgow’s airport after their plot to bomb London failed. He told the Old Bailey criminal court in central London that cell phone detonators in the cars failed, likely because dense fuel vapors caused them to malfunction. The attacks came in the week British Prime Minister Gordon Brown took office, replacing Tony Blair as leader.
“The attack to be conducted at Glasgow was to be a suicide attack likely to result in the loss of both their lives,” Laidlaw told a London court.
Their attack caused panic within the terminal, Laidlaw said, and some vacationers suffered minor injuries as passengers fled and ran through the building.
Laidlaw said Kafeel Ahmed made repeated attempts to drive the blazing Jeep Cherokee through entrance doors to the airport.
“espite his efforts, the vehicle became trapped,” he told the court. “Those who witnessed him described a set and determined face as he stared forward.”
Laidlaw said the vehicle came to rest six meters (20 feet) away from passengers lining up at check-in desks.
Ahmed’s passenger threw a petrol bomb toward a taxi rank as the driver “began to pour and splash fuel from a can on to the area outside the car window,” Laidlaw said. The driver “got out of the vehicle and was engulfed in flames that swept around the Jeep and terminal building,” he said.
Kafeel sent his brother a text message between the London and Glasgow attacks, which included suggestions on how to mislead investigators in the aftermath of the planned strike, Laidlaw said.
“This is a project I was working on for some time now,” part of the message read, Laidlaw said. “Everything since last week was executed by me and my team.”