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It has also revealed the manpower limitations of the country's electronic surveillance system. David Capitanbchik, a terrorism expert at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, also suggests the attack in Glasgow may be in response to last week's elevation to the post of Prime Minister of Gordon Brown, who is a Scot and from Glasgow, and is a wake-up call to Scotland which has traditionally seen itself as immune to terrorism, a view based in part on strong historical ties with Northern Ireland during the height of Britain's conflict with the IRA. Saturday's attack, on the first day of the Scottish school holidays and possibly timed to coincide with the Queen's official opening of the Scottish parliament shows that "Scotland has to be as much on alert as the rest of the UK," he said.
Police believe the cars used in Friday's attempted attack on London's West End had been driven to the capital from Scotland. At least one of the Mercedes was logged last Wednesday on its journey south on the national Automatic Number Plate Recognition System, a network of hi-tech cameras across the country established to counter terrorism. Meanwhile a nationwide manhunt is gathering pace.
Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke earlier stated that the attacks "resonated with previous plots." Last year, a British-born Muslim convert named Dhiren Barot was sentenced to 40 years in jail for plotting attacks on the U.K. A 39-page list of possible targets and methods that Barot prepared for his al-Qaeda contacts included a plot he dubbed the Gas Limos Project. This proposed using propane gas cylinders and fuel to turn stretch limos into mobile bombs that could then be left in parking lots underneath key buildings.
The trial earlier this year of a group of British terrorists ensnared by the security services in an operation dubbed Crevice revealed some of the conversations between members of the group, who plotted to use fertilizer bombs against targets in Britain, including another London nightclub called the Ministry of Sound. This wasn't simply selected as a soft target, but as an emblem of Western corruption. "No one can even turn around and say 'Oh they were innocent, those slags dancing around,'" said one of the conspirators during a discussion recorded by the security services.
The bomb outside Tiger Tiger was probably too small to destroy the nightclub, according to experts. "In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, there you had a huge truck loaded with explosives parked under the World Trade Center, so much better placed, and a much better load. And it still didn't bring down the World Trade Center," Dr. Peter Neumann, the director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College, London, told TIME.
But in 2002, bombers in Bali killed 200 night-clubbers and wounded hundreds more by detonating two separate devices, one to draw curious onlookers and a second that exploded in the midst of the assembled crowd. A first explosion outside Tiger Tiger might well have drawn onlookers to Cockspur Street, into the range of the second potential car bomb.With reporting by Eben Harrell/Houston