Glasgow Airport Terror Attack: 10 Years On


Ten years on from the Glasgow airport terror attack, and though the threat has continued to change, the threat of terrorism remains.

SecuriGroup Operations Director Allan Burnett QPM represented Scotland's police services in London after the airport attack by Kafeel Ahmed, who later died, and Bilal Abdulla, now serving a life sentence with a minimum of 32 years.

In an interview marking the ten year anniversary of the attack, Allan gave his thoughts on how things have changed and what still has to be done. 

"What was true before the airport attack, and remained true after it, is that the terrorists only have to be successful sometimes."

"None of the international terrorist groups disappeared, although prime villainy moved from al-Qaeda to Isis. Killed leaders of terrorist groups and rogue states including Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi have quickly been replaced."

"Our foreign policy and our continued interventions in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East and north Africa have continued and bombings and drone strikes are fingers in the wasps' nest. In addition, a lack of investment after conflict and regime change has contributed to the chaos."

Radicalisation Strategy

 "The perceived injustice [of this intervention] is a terrorist recruiter's dream, and 10 years have seen their media and social media savvy escalate. They are masters of propaganda, selling martyrdom and a fast track to heaven."

"Our police and ­security services are even more adept at disrupting and detecting terrorist plots than they were 10 years ago. However, with 3000 people of concern in the UK with a support network estimated at another 20,000, stopping every attack is not credible."

"Our intelligence and response ­capabilities have got even better since Glasgow but volume is a challenge. We need to ensure our protectors have the resources and our backing to carry out their onerous task."

"Whatever the technical solution to [encrypted communication], there has to be one, or we are gifting a massive advantage to our enemies. The civil liberties issue has to be considered, but part of that debate has to be the right to life, which the terrorists have no respect for."

"The last 10 years has seen an acceleration of Brits abroad to fight for al-Qaeda or Isis and while some have come back disillusioned, others' hearts harbour malice and they have military training. Scotland has also contributed volunteers, including Aberdeen jihadi Abdul Raqib Amin and Glasgow's Isis recruiter Aqsa Mahmood."

"We must also not forget that while the Northern Ireland peace initiative has delivered for 10 years and more, the potential for a relapse remains. Right-wing terrorism is also regrettably alive and kicking, with the murder of Jo Cox by Scots-born Thomas Mair and the recent terrorist act near Finsbury Park mosque."

Contest: Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare

"The Government's counter-terrorism strategy Contest has been kept under constant review. It has had critics but its 'Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare' elements have stood the test of time."

"Prevent, the anti-radicalisation element, has proved the most controversial, being described as a toxic brand targeting and labelling Muslims. However, no credible alternatives are offered by its critics for dealing with returners or radicalised prisoners."

"Terrorist leaders have encouraged supporters who cannot get explosives or firearms to use vehicles, knives, poison or other means. Even more obvious is the targeting of crowded places with a preference when people are enjoying themselves."

"As we witnessed in Manchester, crowded places and mass casualties are the aim, no matter how young or innocent those victims might be. We are 10 years on from Glasgow airport but there is certainly no room for complacency."

"Tagging and substantial curfews and travel restrictions with serious penalties for non-compliance offer enhanced protection. I detect that our resistant position on arming police officers has mellowed – not over 10 years but in light of events over the last 10 months. Chief Constable Phil Gormley may decide more are required, plus means to get officers to remote towns and cities."

For all media enquiries, please contact the SecuriGroup Communications team at

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