Prominent fans of the Celtic Football Club have been warned to exercise caution after potentially lethal letter bombs were sent to the team’s manager, Neil Lennon, as well as to two high-profile fans, Lennon’s lawyer Paul McBride QC and Trish Godman, a Labour member of the Scottish parliament.
The three have been alerted by counter-terrorism detectives and recommended security tips. Their mail is now being intercepted and monitored.
The letter bomb campaign is believed to be related to the sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.
Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, lamented the letter bomb situation, calling it depressing and deplorable.
The Scottish FA is horrified and saddened by the news that the Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, has been subjected to another - reportedly 'viable' - threat along with two other prominent supporters of the club,” Regan said.
It is hoped that swift action by Strathclyde Police will succeed in capturing the perpetrators of these cowardly acts and bring the full weight of justice down on them. Scottish football should be a safe and entertaining environment for players, coaches and supporters. It must not be used as a platform for religious intolerance or hatred.
Lennon, a Catholic from Northern Ireland, has dealt with threats throughout his career going back to when he played.
In fact, Lennon, who is only 39, was forced to retire from playing for Northern Ireland in international football after alleging he received death threats from a paramilitary group.
In 2008, Lennon was attacked on the streets in the west end of Glasgow. Earlier this year, he received a letter filled with bullets.
Two other Celtic players Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt, both from Northern Ireland, were also sent bullets in the mail.
Lennon told reporters he is holding up well, but added: “it is a nuisance.”
Prominent Catholics in Scotland, including Cardinal Keith O'Brien have also been warned to be vigilant.
According to police officials, the bombs were liquid-based devices designed to “maim or kill.” They contained nails and high explosives.
Chief Superintendent Ruaraidh Nicolson from Strathclyde Police asserted that the letter bombs do not pose a danger to the wider public.
This is focused on high-profile people who have been in the media, who need to take sensible precautions,” he said:
If they receive something in the mail that they are unhappy about or they didn't expect to receive, then they need to think about phoning the police.
Celtic F.C. is a legendary Scottish football club that is based in Glasgow. They are bitter rivals with the Glasgow Rangers F.C. Matches between the clubs often take a political-sectarian tone and frequently lead to violence.
Celtic fans are mostly Irish Catholics, while Ranger fans are almost entirely Scots and Ulster Protestants.
Meanwhile, the search for the letter-bomber, who is thought to be an Ulster Union Loyalist, is focused in Scotland, although Lennon has previously received similar mail from Northern Ireland.