SNP ministers feared healthcare workers could be “victimised as a group” in the wake of the Glasgow Airport attack because one of the terrorists was a doctor, official files reveal.

Cabinet minutes released today by the National Records of Scotland show ministers were anxious to “contain the reaction” in case it put medics off working in Scotland.

Police promised any reprisals against ethnic minorities would be dealt with “severely”.

First Minister Alex Salmond praised the police response to the attack on 30 June 2007 as “impressive” and said fully reopening the airport within 72 hours was “the result of an extraordinary effort”.

The first terror attack in Scotland since the Lockerbie bombing of 1998, the Glasgow incident was linked to two thwarted car bombings in London on 29 June.

The next day, culprits Bilal Abdullah and Kafeel Ahmed drove to Scotland and tried to ram a Jeep Cherokee loaded with propane gas canisters through the doors of the airport terminal.

A concrete pillar blocked them entering a hall packed with hundreds of passengers, while members of the public stopped them as they tried to throw petrol bombs. 

Ahmed, 28, an Indian-born engineer who grew up in Saudi Arabia, deliberately set himself on fire and died a month later after sustaining 90 per cent burns.

Abdullah, 27, an Iraqi doctor who had been working at Paisley’s Royal Alexandria Hospital, was later sentenced to life for conspiracy to commit murder, with a minimum 32 years in jail.

On Tuesday July 3, at the first Scottish cabinet meeting after the attack, Mr Salmond updated his colleagues on the incident.

He said the Scottish Executive Emergency Room (SEER) opened “very quickly” after the event the previous Saturday afternoon and had remained operational round the clock since then, to ensure effective liaison between the Government and all relevant agencies. 

“He had spoken with the Prime Minister very soon after he was notified of the attack and had chaired a number of meetings of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Civil Contingencies (CSCCC), whose remit it was to keep under review the management of major terrorist or other disruptive incidents in Scotland and report to Cabinet as appropriate. 

“CSCCC had received regular reports from the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police and other senior police officers involved. Opposition party leaders had been briefed on the situation on the Saturday evening and were being kept appraised of developments.”

Mr Salmond said he and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill had also “liaised closely with UK Government Ministers and they and officials had taken part in COBR [Cabinet Office] meetings via video.

“The First Minister said that the police investigation was proceeding apace. The police had apprehended all those they had sought in Scotland and were not seeking to make any further arrests in relation to the incident.

"He thought that the immediate response to the incident had been impressive. All necessary precautions were set in place smoothly and calmly, without causing public panic. 

“The achievement of enabling Glasgow airport to be open for full normal service as usual within 72 hours had been the result of an extraordinary effort.”

Mr Salmond said that on the the basis of evidence linking the attempted bombings in London to the Glasgow attack”, the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, had agreed to suspects in Scotland going into the custody of the Metropolitan Police in London and agreed with the UK Attorney General on a “single prosecution of the connected events in the public interest”.

Under “Community relations and minimising incidents of a racist nature”, the minutes state: “The Government had been at pains to try to minimise the impact of the incident on communities, and minority communities in particular, which might feel threatened or under suspicion as a result.

"The message from the first day onward had been that the individuals involved were responsible for their actions, not the communities from which they came, and the police had been clear that any acts of reprisal would be dealt with severely.

“The police had done a lot of work recently to consolidate their relationship with minority communities; and that stood them in good stead in handling any fall-out from the events”.

Mr MacAskill was also due to visit Edinburgh Central Mosque on Friday, 6 July, for “talks on how the Government might work with the Muslim community to strengthen relations”.

The minutes then reveal concerns over health care workers being involved in the incidents. 

“Consideration would be required on how to contain the reaction to the fact that a number of individuals involved in the London and Glasgow incidents were from the healthcare profession and any knock-on effect on the country's ability to attract top medical staff from around the world to work in NHS Scotland.”

In the discussion afterwards, the connection to the health care profession was seen as raising two “immediate issues” for the Government. 

“First, there was the question of whether it was necessary, and possible, to bolster the checks made on health professionals from overseas applying to work in NHS Scotland.

“Checks were currently made of those seeking employment at 2 levels, by immigration at the point of entry and by the NHS as an employer verifying qualifications and references in the usual way. The question of possible deficiencies in checks and what could be done to address these would be looked at in liaison with UK Ministers. 

“Second, was the need to avoid healthcare workers in any way being victimised as a group because of the connection to the profession of the individuals detained in association with these incidents.

"It would be important to get the strong messages across publicly that NHS staff, like the other emergency services involved in these incidents, had shown huge professionalism in dealing with the aftermath of the events and that health professionals from overseas played an important role in NHS Scotland.”

Solicitor General Frank Mulholland KC said that “in terms of possible reprisals and the strain on communities as a result of these attacks… the police were working closely with minority communities who might feel vulnerable and offering the reassurance that any incidents of a racial nature would be rigorously pursued. 

“He said that procurators fiscal would be treating any incidents very seriously but, so far, signs were positive, with only a few isolated cases.”

The cabinet agreed the SEER response had “proved effective” and that ministers had been kept well-briefed in order to manage the consequences of the attack.

It was also agreed that, although opposition party leaders had already been briefed on the developing situation twice, Mr MacAskill should offer them a further briefing that evening on the latest developments, including “the decision on jurisdiction agreed by the Lord Advocate and Attorney General and the positions on the involvement of health care professionals and key messages on community relations”.