Scotland

Heroes of terror attack praised 10 years on

Off-duty police officer Stewart Ferguson hosed down the burning Kafeel Ahmed
Image caption Off-duty police officer Stewart Ferguson hosed down the burning Kafeel Ahmed

The police officer in charge on the day of the Glasgow Airport terror attack 10 years ago has again praised the "heroism" of members of the public.

Former senior investigating officer David Swindle said the passers-by who tackled the attackers stopped them "causing harm" to hundreds of people.

Kafeel Ahmed and Bilal Abdulla crashed a Jeep into the doors of the airport's departure hall on 30 June 2007.

A concrete pillar and the actions of the public averted a tragedy.

Mr Swindle told BBC Scotland: "This was a Jeep loaded up with gas canisters and Molotov cocktails that was driven right into the airport.

"A concrete stanchion stopped it.

"If that vehicle had got through we will never know what the horrors would have been."

The Glasgow attack came the day after a failed attempt by the same pair to detonate two car bombs in London.

Image caption Kafeel Ahmed and Bilal Abdulla carried out the Glasgow Airport attack

Abdulla, an Iraqi doctor who has been working in Paisley, and Ahmed, an Indian engineer who had grown up in Saudi Arabia, knew the police were on their trail and were determined to carry out a deadly suicide attack.

As their burning vehicle sat lodged in the airport doors and thousands of holidaymakers ran for their lives, the attackers got out of the vehicle and started to throw petrol bombs. Ahmed set himself on fire.

Mr Swindle praised the "heroism" of the public in tackling Abdulla and Ahmed.

These included Alex McIlveen, a taxi driver who had just dropped off a fare, and Stephen Clarkson, who had taken his brother's family to the airport.

The detective also pointed to the actions of off-duty policeman Stewart Ferguson, who used a fire extinguisher to try to douse the flames and then used it on one of the bombers to stop him attacking colleagues.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police officers search the area after a burning car slammed into a terminal at Glasgow airport

Mr Swindle said: "The attackers were individuals who had already tried to commit terrorist attacks in London. They were determined to do something. They were determined to complete an act.

"These were people who were determined to harm members of the public going on their holidays. This was the first day of the school holidays."

"The intervention of the various people who were there, I would say, stopped Ahmed doing harm to the public."

Airport baggage handler John Smeaton rose to fame after the attack with a TV interview in which he said: "Glasgow doesn't accept this. This is Glasgow; we'll set about ye."

Kafeel Ahmed suffered 90% burns in the attack and died a month later.

Bilal Abdulla was later found guilty of conspiracy to murder by planning car bomb attacks and sentenced to at least 32 years in jail.

Mr Swindle, the former detective, said he thinks the Glasgow attack was the first time in the UK a vehicle had been used to cause terror in this way.

"Sadly since then we have seen so many acts like this," he said.

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