A man who attempted to carry an explosive device through Manchester Airport has been jailed.
Nadeem Muhammad, 43, of Tinline Street, Bury has been sentenced today, Wednesday 23 August 2017, at Manchester Crown Court.
He received 18 years in prison, with an extended license of five years, after being found guilty of possession of explosives with intent to endanger life.
On Monday 30 January 2017, Muhammad was planning to travel to Italy when he attempted to pass through security at Manchester Airport, with the suspicious item in his hand luggage.
An airport security officer spotted the small device, which contained about 10grams of gunpowder, as it went through the x-ray scanner and Muhammad was stopped and questioned.
It was initially examined by specially-trained airport staff, which on first examination was assessed as unlikely to be viable.
The man was then interviewed by officers and had his phone seized for assessment.
Based on the circumstances and information presented at the time, he was not arrested but was stopped from flying that day.
Following further enquiries and forensic examinations of the device by police, several days later, it was determined it was viable and the man was arrested.
ACC Russ Jackson, responsible for the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “This afternoon, Muhammad has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.
“He was planning to travel to Italy via Manchester Airport. As his luggage passed through security, staff detected a suspicious item in his hand luggage.
“There were initial examinations of the device and Muhammed was questioned by airport security staff and then police officers.
“His account at the time was that he knew nothing about the device, he had never seen it before.
“He was interviewed by police officers and the item and his phone were seized for examination.
“Based on the circumstances and information at the time, he was not arrested but was stopped from flying whilst the interview and initial device examination took place.
“It was only when the item was examined forensically days later that it was found to be a potentially viable device. At this point efforts were immediately made to arrest Muhammad.
“The device which consisted of three AAA batteries and the shell of a marker pen when examined in the laboratory was found to contain just under 10 grams of gunpowder and dressmakers pins.
“As the judge indicated today, this could have caused “not inconsiderable damage” to property and injury to people close to the device.
“We cannot be certain what risk this device presented and may never know Muhammad’s intentions unless he decides to tell us.
“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 today 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.”
Sue Hemming from the CPS said: “Despite extensive investigation, Nadeem Muhammed’s motive for attempting to take this device onto a plane remains unknown. However it is clear that the consequences, had he been successful, could have been disastrous.
“The CPS put a strong case to the jury resulting in him being found guilty today. He will now be held accountable for his actions.”