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Where a few plotters of terror and mayhem succeed, many more fail in spectacular fashion. Here's a list of the standouts.
A close link was established between this attempt and an attack at Glasgow Airort the following day (see below).
The area believed to contain a bomb is cordoned off in Haymarket, a busy street in the heart of central London's theater district, on June 29, 2007. (Stephen Hird/Reuters)
4. Glasgow International Airport attack (2007)
Witnesses described a Jeep Cherokee speeding toward the main terminal building at Glasgow Internatonal Airport with flames coming out from underneath. They also reported seeing two Asian men, one of them on fire, in the car. The June 30, 2007 attack, in which an SUV loaded with propane canisters was driven into the glass doors of the airport and set ablaze, constitutes Scotland's first terrorist incident, if you don't count the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie. Police later identified the two men in the Jeep as Bilal Abdullah, a British-born, Muslim doctor of Iraqi descent who was working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, and Kafeel Ahmed, who was the driver. One newspaper reported that a suicide note had indicated that the two intended to die in the attack. Ahmed did eventually die of his injuries, while Abdullah was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 32 years in prison.
Police forensics officers look at the burned wreckage of a Jeep Cherokee vehicle at the entrance of Glasgow airport on July 1, 2007. (Reuters)
5. Plot to blow up transatlantic airliners (2006)
Their plan was to perpetrate the worst atrocity on civilian life since the 9/11 attacks, the courts were told when a gang of British Muslims went on trial for plotting to detonate suicide bombs on seven transatlantic flights over North America in 2006. The flights chosen by the alleged terrorists were scheduled to leave Heathrow International Airport one afternoon carrying almost 2,000 passengers and crew and destined for six American and Canadian cities. Had the bombers — as many as 18 — succeeded in boarding the planes and detonating over land, the death toll could have eclipsed that of the Twin Towers collapse. But they didn't, as the alleged plot was foiled when two of the key gang members were arrested by police in a parking lot following several months of surveillance. What the plotters did achieve was chaos, cancellation and delays at airports across the U.K. and Europe and the introduction of unprecedented restrictions at airports, including prohibitions on carrying liquids onto commercial aircraft.
Rashid Rauf, left, a British citizen believed to have put the transatlantic plotters in touch with Al Qaeda, is escorted by Pakistani police on Dec. 22, 2006. (Mian Khursheed/Reuters)
6. Richard Reid, a.k.a. the "shoe bomber" (2001)
Next time you're running for a flight but get held up taking your shoes off at the security gate, thank one Richard Colvin Reid. Reid, commonly known as the "shoe bomber" pled guilty in 2003 in U.S. federal court to eight criminal counts of terrorism related to his attempt, on Dec. 22, 2001, to light explosives in his shoes on a Paris-to-Miami flight. He was overpowered by passengers and is serving a life sentence without parole in a super maximum security prison in the U.S. Born in London to a jailed career criminal father, the confessed Al Qaeda member spent 1999 and 2000 in Pakistan and trained at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan.
Richard C. Reid is taken from the Massachusetts State Police barracks at Logan International Airport on Dec. 22, 2001. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
7. Summer Olympics bombing in Atlanta (1996)
A chance arrest by an alert policeman led to the capture of Eric Robert Rudolph, the lone suspect in the fatal 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing and a series of blasts across the south who had vanished into the North Carolina hills and been hunted for five years. Rudolph, who had connections since childhood to a number of anti-Semitic, racist and anti-government groups, was charged with detonating homemade bombs that sprayed nails, metal shanks and other shrapnel and killed one woman while wounding 111 at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.