The attack on a Glasgow airport apparently resulted from an Islamist conspiracy, as suspected yesterday in its aftermath. British authorities have four people in custody, including two arrested in Chesire:
Early Sunday, after a day of fast-moving developments, the London police announced that two people had been arrested in Cheshire, in northwest England, “in connection with the events in London and Scotland.”
The arrests were in addition to those of the two occupants of the blazing car at Glasgow Airport. A witness to the attack said on BBC television that one of the car’s occupants had been ablaze from head to foot, and as he struggled with the police, “was throwing punches and shouting ‘Allah, Allah.’ ”
Britain’s threat level is now at “critical,” meaning another attack is considered imminent. The threat has not been as high since last year, after authorities discovered what they called a plot to attack trans-Atlantic airliners with liquid explosives.
A British security official, who like many other officials who disclosed information insisted on anonymity, said Saturday that the heightened level reflected an assessment that the London and Glasgow cases were “linked in some ways and, therefore, there are clearly individuals who have the capability and intent to carry out further attacks.”
The links relate to the way the London car bombs and Glasgow airport attack were planned, using vehicles and gasoline, the official said.
Clearly, radical Islamists have planned these attacks for quite some time. The attacks took some planning and materiel acquisition, which indicates coordination between the two cells in terms of at least the timing. Since cells typically operate independently, that indicates a higher-level involvement, probably from al-Qaeda, rather than home-grown terrorists working spontaneously.
If so, then AQ has hit some hard times in terms of competence. The two London bombs failed to detonate, perhaps from design flaws, or perhaps from the incompetence of the bombmakers. However, the Glasgow attack seems highly amateurish and very poorly conceived. The terminal at Glasgow has significant barriers to defend against vehicular attacks, which the attackers apparently didn’t take into consideration. Instead of blowing up the terminal, all they succeeded in doing was to light themselves on fire — which no one will consider any great loss.
That doesn’t make AQ harmless by any means. It does, however, indicate that our years-long aggressive strategy of attacking AQ as an enemy at war rather than a criminal gang has paid off. They have lost a large number of their leadership, and apparently a great deal of their organizational skills. They used to excel at coordinated bombing attacks, but now their bombs misfire, and they’re reduced to banzai attacks on concrete barricades.
As I said yesterday, Jihadi U seems to have suffered from massive grade inflation.