A man who tried to smuggle a pipe bomb on to a plane at Manchester Airport has been jailed for 18 years.
The “crude improvised explosive device” was found in Nadeem Muhammad’s luggage as he passed security on 30 January to try to board a plane to Bergamo, Italy.
After sentencing Muhammad, 43, the judge criticised both airport staff and police who did not initially think the device was “potentially viable”.
Greater Manchester Police said security procedures had been reviewed.
‘Lack of concern’
Muhammad, of Tinline Street, Bury, had denied possessing explosives with intent to endanger life but was previously found guilty by a jury at Manchester Crown Court.
He was attempting to board a Ryanair flight when the item was discovered and told airport officials someone else had put it in his luggage.
A forensic examination of the device later found it contained nitroglycerin and nitrocellulose, which led to Muhammad’s home in Italy being searched.
After being questioned by Italian police, he was released and boarded a flight back to the UK on 12 February and arrested by UK officers shortly after landing.
A forensic examination of the device later found it was “potentially viable”, his trial heard.
Judge Patrick Field QC said there was no obvious motivation for Muhammad’s actions.
After sentencing he was “alarmed” about some of the evidence in the case and about “the lack of concern” expressed by both airport officials and police.
“Airport security staff reached a wholly erroneous and potentially dangerous conclusion – as a result one member of staff even put the device in her pocket and tested it in the shoe X-ray machine,” he said.
He said that had “put herself and fellow employees and members of public at risk”.
“The situation was compounded when the police became involved because they too readily accepted it wasn’t dangerous and an early opportunity to arrest him was missed.”
Judge Field QC said there was “a risk he could have escaped justice altogether” and it was “good luck rather than good judgement” that “this matter came to a satisfactory conclusion”.
He added: “In these dangerous times there is no room for complacency and I hope security at Manchester Airport will be subject to a review at the highest level.”
In response to the judge’s comments a Manchester Airport spokesman said: “Security is our number one priority and we work closely with [the] government, police and other agencies to provide passengers with a safe and secure environment.
“In this instance, our security team successfully detected a device hidden inside the lining of a suitcase. It was deemed to be a suspicious item and passed to police to investigate further.”
It added: “These actions prevented a potentially dangerous item being taken on board an aircraft and, ultimately, to a successful prosecution.”
Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said: “Both the airport and police have reviewed our security procedure to ensure that operating procedures are followed on every occasion when there’s a suspicious incident.”
He said it was “without a doubt an extremely serious incident at a time when people are concerned about terrorism, especially here in Manchester”.
“Whilst it should be acknowledged that security checks were effective in finding the item, the assessment of the device should have been more comprehensive and should have taken place much sooner.”
ACC Jackson added: “These lessons have been learned and reviews of our operating procedures have already taken place.”
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