Published on Thursday, August 24, 2017

Judge criticises security at Manchester Airport

A judge has criticised security staff at Manchester Airport for failing to spot a potentially viable bomb in a passenger's hand luggage.

Nadeem Muhammad, 43, was allowed to walk free because staff believed a pipe bomb in the zip lining of his suitcase was not viable.

A manager even put the device - made up masking tape, batteries, pins, wires, and the tube of a marker pen - into her pocket before passing it to police.

Muhammad, who had been trying to board a Ryanair flight to Italy, was questioned by counter terrorism police and was allowed to walk free.

He flew to Italy five days later then back to the UK on February 12, when he was arrested.

In that time checks had showed the true nature of the explosive device, which also contained nitrocellulose, the main ingredient of gunpowder.

Muhammad has now been jailed for 18 years at Manchester Crown Court for possessing an explosive with intent to endanger life.

Judge Patrick Field QC told the court staff had made a 'wholly erroneous and potentially dangerous' decision and said he was 'alarmed by some of the evidence in the case'.

"In these dangerous times it seems to me there's no room for complacency," he said.

"I express hope that security at the airport and policing at the airport will be subject to a review at the highest level."

In a statement, Russ Jackson, responsible for the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, said: "I want to be clear that we accept there were errors made in the assessment of this item.

"Our debriefs of staff have shown that Muhammad's explanation, his demeanour when stopped, the absence of any concern in background checks and the actual initial assessment of the device, certainly led to the view at the time that this was not a suspicious incident.

"This was wrong and when the true nature of the item became clear, immediate steps were taken to arrest Muhammad and he has been successfully prosecuted and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

"What should be made clear is that airport security screening was effective and the device found. I also want to explain that both airport and police have reviewed our security procedures to ensure that proper operating procedures are followed on every occasion where there is a suspicious incident.

"Since January, there have been several occasions when these have been tested and procedures have worked effectively, although thankfully on each occasion the incidents have been false alarms.

"This is an extremely serious incident at a time when people are concerned about terrorism, especially here in Manchester and whilst it should be acknowledged that the security checks were effective in finding the item, the assessment of the device should have been more comprehensive and taken place sooner.

"These lessons have been learned and reviews of operating procedures have already taken place."

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: "Security is our number one priority and we work closely with Government, the 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.

"These actions prevented a potentially dangerous item being taken on board an aircraft and, ultimately, to a successful prosecution."

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  • Screenings tight at MAN

    I would concur that with the comment that Manchester's security screening is effective. I visit Manchester for work and travel regularly from Manchester's Terminal 3. I find the screening process possibly the tightest of any European, Asian or Australian airport through which I've travelled (I'm a Sapphire One World frequent flyer, so see a few airports!). At times there are more people whose bags have failed the scanning process than those passing through clearly at Terminal 3. Even when I take out virtually every item that is likely to fail from my cabin baggage, something will fail. Once it was an empty electric toothbrush case. I've observed that despite people being warned before approaching security, many will still fail to remove hair straighteners or other large electronic items.

    By Natasha Chalumeau, Wednesday, March 28, 2018

  • Complacency!!

    The quote: "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." Yes, your staff "passed (the bomb) to police to investigate further" AFTER the female staffer PUT IT IN HER POCKET as though it were "nothing serious" before passing it to police! Good LORD!!! She herself was a DANGER to EVERYONE at that point.

    By LeAnne Rigsby, Thursday, August 24, 2017

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