A bomb attack on three top Celtic targets was today branded a “despicable and cowardly act” by the superintendent leading the investigation.
The explosives mailed to Celtic boss Neil Lennon, his lawyer QC Paul McBride and MSP Trish Godman have baffled police, who say they have seen nothing like them before.
The huge police team mobilised to investigate the deadly devices are appealing for people who used a postbox when they were sent to get in touch.
And a press conference revealed that other high-profile Celtic figures have been contacted and warned of the danger to them.
Detective Chief Superintendent John Mitchell, yesterday appealed for help with the investigation into the three-week terror campaign against the Celtic-linked trio, revealed to the public on Wednesday.
He confirmed that forensic investigations of the intercepted parcels sent to their offices showed they were all likely to have exploded when opened.
Speaking at Strathclyde Police headquarters, in Pitt Street, Glasgow, he
said: “I can’t go into any level of detail into what was contained within the packages, however I can confirm that they were designed to cause real harm to the person who opened them.
“Sending these types of packages through the post is a despicable and cowardly act.
“Whoever has done this has not only put the person that the package was addressed to in danger but they have also put a large number of mailroom staff in harm’s way.
“We are acutely aware of the alarm that these types of incidents can cause.”
The parcels never reached the three targets they were intended for, thanks to the quick-thinking of post office staff.
On Friday, March 4, a suspect package addressed to Neil Lennon was intercepted by a Royal Mail sorting office in Saltcoats, Ayrshire.
On March 26, a second device, posted to Lennon at Celtic’s training ground in Lennoxtown, was stopped by an office in Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire.
Both were originally thought to be hoaxes before tests were carried out.
MSP Godman, 71, had her parcel, mailed two days later to her West Renfrewshire constituency office in Quarrier’s Village, near Bridge of Weir, intercepted.
And post office staff in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, smelled fuel in the fourth package, sent to McBride at the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh on April 15.
Chief Supt Mitchell did not confirm reports that one bomb contained petrol but said the investigation was concentrating on Scotland. No terrorist organisation is being investigated.
The Strathclyde force is working with police in Northern Ireland to find the bomber, who has been linked to sectarian ant-Celtic internet hate campaigns .
First minister Alex Salmond called an emergency meeting with Cabinet ministers on Saturday in the wake of the scare, pronouncing, “We will not tolerate this”.
Sources said Lennon, McBride and Hoops fan Godman had all been given GPS tracking devices with panic buttons to keep them safe.
Officers have been in touch with the Parkhead-based football team to help them beef up security in advance of Sunday’s Old Firm game.
The next phase of the investigation will focus on the postbox the bomber or bombers may have used.
Anyone who used a postbox on Montgomery Terrace in Kilwinning between 4.15pm on April 14 and 4.15pm on April 15 or saw someone posting a letter there is urged to come forward.
Chief Superintendent Ruaraidh Nicolson said the police had spoken to mailworkers to give them guidance on how to deal with suspect packages.
He said: “Our priority is keeping people safe. On that basis we are doing everything that we possibly can to make sure that nobody receives any devices.
“This is not targeted at the general public, although anyone receiving suspicious packages should get in touch.”
The bomber’s three-week campaign of terror is thought to have been sparked by stories in the media on Celtic.
Lennon’s parcel was sent days after the Old Firm game which saw him square up to Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist.
It is his third death threat this year.
In January, bullets sent to Lennon and players Paddy MCCourt and Niall McGinn were blocked and the manager and his family are now under 24-hour protection.
Veteran MSP Godman was targeted hours after being pictured wearing a Celtic shirt, signed by her colleagues at Holyrood as a leaving present after she quit her post.
McBride has represented all kinds of clients, including murderers, in his 25-year career, but never been threatened before.
He’s believed to have been targeted for representing Lennon and claiming the SFA are ‘dishonest’ and ‘biased’ towards Rangers.
This was after the body’s disciplinary committee rescinded McCoist’s two-match ban for his row with Lennon, while continuing to impose the Celtic manager’s four-match ban.
A source close to McBride said: “This was a viable working device designed to maim or kill. He was told it could have blown his hands or face off.”
Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray added: “The people behind these sinister and potentially life-threatening acts need to be caught and brought to justice.
“I am absolutely appalled at this development and hope that progress can be made on finding those responsible.
“Individuals who engage in this type of terrorism do not have the support of the public and are rightly seen as pariahs.”
He added: “Trish Godman has served all her constituents with both ability and humility over the last 12 years and it’s appalling that anyone could think that this type of act was ever acceptable.
“However, now is the time for calm heads. I hope that the whole community shows that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated in our country.”