TWO potentially lethal parcel bombs were sent to Neil Lennon – the manager of Scottish soccer giant Celtic – in the latest attacks on the club, its players and supporters, police said yesterday.
The bombs, which contained liquid explosives and nails, were intercepted before they reached the offices of the soccer coach.
Two other devices were sent to lawyer Paul McBride – who has represented both the club and Lennon – and to lawmaker Trish Godman – a member of the Scottish parliament and a high-profile supporter of the club.
At first, security services thought the devices were hoaxes, but further tests showed that they were capable of causing death or serious injury.
Police investigating the attacks believe they are linked to the long and troubled history of sectarianism associated with Celtic, a staunchly Roman Catholic club, and its old rival Rangers, which is equally staunchly Protestant.
Strathclyde Police detective superintendent John Mitchell said that sending the packages was a “despicable and cowardly act,” adding that they were being treated as “viable devices.”
Mitchell said, “They were definitely capable of causing significant harm and injury to individuals if they had opened them.”
The first bomb was discovered March 4 – a day after a Celtic and Rangers match ended in violence both on and off the field, with three players sent off and 34 people arrested.
The second bomb was intercepted by mail staff in a sorting office March 26. Two days later, a parcel addressed to Godman was delivered to her constituency office.
Three weeks later, on April 15, a fourth package was intercepted before it was delivered to McBride.
The crude, homemade devices appeared to be designed to detonate when the liquid came into contact with oxygen or sunlight, Sky News reported. Mitchell refused to confirm any details about the packages but agreed that they were able of causing serious harm.
Police warned high-profile Celtic fans to take extra precautions with their mail and to call the emergency services if they received an unsolicited parcel.
Scottish first minister Alex Salmond said, “We will not tolerate this sort of criminality in Scotland. These disgraceful events should remind all of us who love the game of football of what unites us as a community.”
Police also responded yesterday to a report of a suspicious package at the offices of former senior lawmaker and Celtic director Brian Wilson – but said later that the alert was a “well-intentioned” false alarm.