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Interview with 'secret hero' of airport attack

18.09.07

An unsung hero of the Glasgow Airport terror attack has broken his silence and revealed how he 'mowed down' burning would-be bomber Kafeel Ahmed, the Daily record reports. Stephen Clarkson has stayed out of the headlines since the attack on June 30, but yesterday he gave his first interview to the newspaper, including how he floored Ahmed with a forearm smash as the 'crazed terrorist' came at him outside Terminal One.

Mr. Clarkson, 41, told the newspaper: 'The burning man started coming towards me quite fast and I thought, 'I've got to stop him.' I focused myself on him and stared at him. I took two steps towards him and he didn't flinched so I just ran at him and basically mowed him down.'

'I knocked him to the ground using my elbow and forearm and struck his chest. I could see his face as he was going down and the police were immediately on top of him. I just went on automatic. I knew I had to do it. My gut instinct was that he was a terrorist and that he had to be stopped.'

The police had already tried to subdue Ahmed by firing CS spray into his eyes. But some of the spray hit Mr. Clarkson and he was wiping his eyes when the bomber came towards him. He said: 'The CS gas was the reason I ended up having to take him down. It disabled me and I had to clear my eyes. By that time he was coming at me.'

Mr. Clarkson, of Penilee, Glasgow, went to the airport on June 30 to pick up his brother, sister-in-law and niece, who were returning from a holiday in Benidorm. But as he was heading for the arrivals hall, everyone else was running out. Terrorists had just crashed a Jeep loaded with gas canisters into the main entrance.

He told the newspaper: 'I saw the staff pushing people back, but I decided to keep going to find my family. Then I realised I was the only person in the building. I saw smoke coming through the door and thought it was a fire, so I went outside and saw a man just lying there burning.'

'The flames were quite high and all I could see was the shape of his body. There was not a movement or a sound out of him. Someone in the background was shouting, "Burn you b******, burn".'

Mr. Clarkson watched as a plain-clothes policeman put out the flames on the front of Ahmed's body with a fire extinguisher. He said: 'The guy had been on fire for 2 or 3 minutes, but as soon as the flames on his front were out he just got up. It was like a horror movie, like something out of the Terminator.'

'His back was still burning when he walked calmly towards the Jeep, as if he had just woken out of a sleep. He never made a sound as he tried to open the boot. He was pulling at it but it wouldn't open.'

'The man with the extinguisher hosed him down at the back. Two cops then went after him but he went berserk and lashed out at them. He turned and swung his arms to hit the officers but they stood back.'

'He ran towards them, kicking out at them and trying to throw punches. They sprayed CS gas in his face. I was so close I got some of the gas in my eyes. My eyes were burning and I pulled my T-shirt up to wipe them.' Ahmed then tried to go for him, but the self-employed groundsman was more than a match for him.

Police grabbed Ahmed after Mr. Clarkson put him down, and an officer then told him to stand back from the Jeep. He said: 'I was a bit miffed at being told to get back but they were right. It burst into flames as I walked away.'

While others enjoyed the limelight after the attack, Mr. Clarkson went back to work next day. He said: 'I still get flashbacks but no nightmares. I am coping fine. My life hasn't stopped just because a couple of lunatics want to go and blow up Glasgow Airport. I just thank God they were amateurs.'

'I'm no hero. I just did what thousands of Scots would have done when hundreds of lives were at risk. I hope other would-be terrorists get the message that Scotland will not stand for terrorism.'

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