2:00pm Eastern update. All the latest and an amazing photo of the would-be suicide attacker in Glasgow who reportedly yelled “Allah, Allah” during his thwarted attempt to kill in the name of the R.O.P. here.
11:30am Eastern update: Police have conducted a controlled explosion on a vehicle at the hospital treating a suspect in the airport attack and raided buildings in the central England town of Newcastle-Under-Lyme.
MI5 homepage: Threat level = Critical.
Alert: “Suspicious package” at JFK airport forces evacuation. Probably nothing, but better safe than sorry.
Where in the world is Zeeshan Siddiqui? On Friday, I wondered if the Piccadilly Circus car bomb scare might be connected to fugitive terror suspects on the loose in London. You’ll recall that I linked to this article reporting on a seventh suspect who had escaped while under a UK “control order.” (Those orders allow the government to restrict the liberty, movement, and communications of terror suspects deemed dangers to public safety, but who cannot be tried in courts. More on that in a moment.) I also asked former Scotland Yard detective Steve Purl about the fugitives on The O’Reilly Factor Friday night. He agreed they were of concern, but had no further details.
This morning, in the wake of yesterday’s follow-on flaming jihadi jeep attack in Glasgow now officially linked to the thwarted London plot, the UK papers all report that police indeed are trying to track down several of those missing terror suspects in Britain, including the above-pictured Zeeshan Siddiqui. The Observer writes:
The London bomb attack was ‘al-Qaeda inspired’ and may have been linked to five terror suspects who have escaped Home Office control orders and are on the run. As the massive investigation into what could have been Britain’s most deadly terror attack widened last night, police and intelligence sources have also told The Observer that they were now investigating the existence of an Islamic terror cell operating in the capital.
One major branch of the inquiry is tracking down a number of terror suspects on the run who have slipped their control orders, a development that raises fresh questions over the effectiveness of the control orders. One man being sought is Lamine Adam, 26, who, in court evidence heard during the recent Crevice terror trial that saw five jailed for plotting fertiliser bomb attacks in the UK, allegedly boasted of targeting nightclubs…Other men urgently wanted by police are his brother Ibrahim, 20, and Cerie Bullivant, 24, who have also slipped measures meant to keep them under house arrest…Among other terror suspects police want to track down include former tube worker and 26-year-old Londoner Zeeshan Siddiqui. A court has heard how he trained with a London suicide bomber in Pakistan. Another man police want to find is Bestun Salim, who disappeared from his Manchester home last year.
Siddiqui’s escape was revealed two weeks ago by the BBC, which went to court to unmask his identity. Despite the sob-story treatment of his case by human rights groups, Siddiqui is a clear public menace. He trained at an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan with Mohammad Sidique Khan, the ringleader of the 7/7 London suicide bomb attacks, and Omar Khyam, the now jailed head of a plot to detonate a massive fertiliser bomb in England. He had worked as a London Underground station assistant and had met with Abd Al Hadi al-Iraqi, a senior al-Qaeda figure now being held at Guantanamo Bay. The BBC obtained some of his diary excerpts, written before he absconded by jumping from a window at a mental health unit in September 2006. Some jihadi-infused tidbits:
“The armies of Islam are coming, we are ready. I must endure and outdo all the others in endurance. I will do what Allah has willed for me indeed only then will Allah make me successful both in this life and the next.”
And as his health finally improves, he concludes that God has singled him out for blessings and that he now must rejoin the cause.
“I can only repay this debt of gratitude by giving my life and blood for his cause. I just pray that Allah makes this path easy for me.”
Some days he busies himself with his potato plants and making furniture. Other days, when he is feeling down, he entertains himself with violent jihadi videos or the news. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a “black witch”. Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari is a “dog of the hell fire, the Shatan [devil] used to live in Wembley.”
Peering into his mind through the diary, what emerges is an exceptionally troubled young man consumed with anger.
“I just can’t imagine how other Muslims… including my own brother can go about their daily lives as normal, rejecting the strife of the battlefield. Today Islam needs those who are prepared to fight to the death.
“I must rejoin my contingent I must make an all-out immense effort. I have come to the conclusion to just go for it.
“I am still allowing this world to overcome me… once I am back on the field Allah will improve my health automatically.
“Do not waiver or become weak against the enemy. This is the only way I can be reunited again with mummy and daddy in jannah [heaven].”
The papers in the UK have already begun raising questions about what more the government could have done to prevent the two latest attacks. See: “How did car bombers slip through the net?” Look for a lot of hindsight hypocrisy from critics who have been strident opponents of the control orders that have detained about a dozen total jihad suspects and allowed authorities to glean much intelligence about the al Qaeda network in Britain and the UK. As recently as last week, human rights groups were stirring up foment over Britain’s tough anti-terrorism measures and leaning on new PM Gordon Brown to loosen restrictions. The absconders show that, if anything, the control order system has not been tough enough.
On the eve of his official departure, Tony Blair provides scathing criticism of Muslim grievance-mongers and fantasy land civil liberties absolutists:
Tony Blair has launched a powerful attack on ‘absurd’ British Islamists who have nurtured a false ‘sense of grievance’ that they are being oppressed by Britain and the United States.
In his most outspoken remarks on Islamists, the former Prime Minister warns that Britain is in danger of losing the battle against terrorists unless mainstream society confronts the threat.
Blair’s remarks, in which he also attacks some civil liberty campaigners as ‘loopy loo’, were made in a Channel 4 documentary recorded last Tuesday on the eve of his departure from Downing Street.
‘The idea that as a Muslim in this country that you don’t have the freedom to express your religion or your views, I mean you’ve got far more freedom in this country than you do in most Muslim countries,’ Blair told Observer columnist Will Hutton, who presents the documentary.
‘The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle is that we’re not actually fighting it properly. We’re not actually standing up to these people and saying, “It’s not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn’t justified.”‘
…Blair, who normally chooses his language carefully when he talks about Islamists, also takes a swipe at critics who accused him of undermining civil liberties. ‘When I’m trying to change the law in order to make it easier to deport people who engage in terrorism – the idea that that’s an assault on hundreds of years of British civil liberties is completely absurd. Some of what is written on this is loopy-loo in its extremism.’
Indeed it is. That same sense of extremist loopy-loo infects civil liberties absolutists here in the U.S. as well.
A fifth suspect has been arrested:
Police searched several houses near Glasgow International Airport on Sunday in connection with a fiery attack on its main terminal and a foiled car bomb plot in London, and police arrested a fifth suspect in the case.
Britain’s new prime minister, Gordon Brown, said the country was dealing with terrorists associated with al-Qaida. And Lord Stevens, Brown’s new terrorism adviser, said the two attacks in Britain indicate that “al-Qaida has imported the tactics of Baghdad and Bali
Four suspects were in police custody Sunday — and a fifth man was under guard in hospital — after a flaming Jeep crashed into a Scottish airport on Saturday and two car bomb plots were foiled in central London on Friday.
Police said Sunday’s search was taking place in a residential area about seven miles west of central Glasgow, about a mile from the airport. The area around a two-story house in Houston, a small town just outside Glasgow, was cordoned off.
Scotland Yard said two people were arrested early Sunday on a major highway in Cheshire, northern England, in a joint swoop by specialist officers from London and Birmingham. Another person was arrested overnight in Liverpool, police said.
Police offered no further details on those arrested.
In Scotland, officers arrested two men — one of them badly burned — after a Jeep Cherokee rammed into Glasgow airport and burst into flames. The green SUV shattered glass doors at the terminal entrance, stopping within yard of where passengers were lined up at check-in counters.
Police and security officials said the attacks were clearly linked, adding all three vehicles carried large amounts of flammable materials — including gasoline and gas cylinders. The chaos over the past two days has raised fears that the type of car bomb attack that have become commonplace in Iraq has now reached European shores.
Britain on Saturday raised its terror alert to “critical” — the highest possible level — and the Bush administration announced plans to increase security at airports and on mass transit.
In an interview on British Broadcasting Corp. TV Sunday, Brown, who replaced Tony Blair as Britain’s prime minister last week, said Britons face a “long-term and sustained” terrorist threat.
He said that Britain’s message to the terrorists must be: “We will not yield, we will not be intimidated, and we will not allow anyone to undermine our British way of life.”