Man who tried to smuggle pipe bomb onto flight jailed for 18 years

A man who tried to smuggle a pipe bomb onto a flight from Manchester Airport has been jailed for 18 years.

Nadeem Muhammad, 43, was convicted of possessing an explosive with intent to endanger life after the device was found in his hand luggage as he prepared to board a Ryanair flight to Italy.

Security officers uncovered the bomb - made of masking tape, batteries, pins and wires - in the zip lining of his suitcase on January 30.

But Muhammad was initially released on the day of the discovery after a series of "errors" in the assessment of the device.

He was then allowed to board a flight to Italy just five days later, and was only arrested on February 12 upon returning to the UK via Manchester Airport.

Muhammad, who claimed he had never seen the device before, was found guilty by a jury at Manchester Crown Court.

  • Judge 'alarmed' by evidence

After sentencing, Judge Patrick Field QC criticised airport security for making a "wholly erroneous and potentially dangerous" conclusion that the bomb was not viable after it was seized by officers.

Having been questioned by counter terrorism officers on January 30, Muhammad, who was born in Pakistan but had an Italian passport, was released.

Judge Field said he had been "alarmed by some of the evidence in the case."

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

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

Muhammad pictured at Manchester Airport. Credit: GMP

The court had heard that airport staff swabbed the device, which was later found to contain nitroglycerin, but found no trace of explosive and terminal three security manager Deborah Jeffrey initially put it into her pocket.

Judge Field said: "It occurred to me and I'm sure to others listening to that evidence that by acting that way she put herself, her fellow employees and members of the public at risk."

He said the situation was "compounded" by police who accepted the assurance that the device was not viable and missed an "early opportunity" to arrest Muhammad.

  • Device 'would not have brought down airliner'

Judge Field said Muhammad would "undoubtedly" have carried the bomb on to the plane or into the airport's departure lounge where he would have detonated it.

He said: "If detonated in the confines of the cabin of a commercial aeroplane, this device could have caused not inconsiderable injury and damage to those close to the explosion and this then, on any view, is a particularly serious and grave offence."

Martin Liddiard, defending, said expert evidence showed the improvised explosive device would have been "unreliable" and "unpredictable" and if it had been detonated was only likely to have caused injuries to those in very close proximity.

He said: "This is not, in fact, a case involving the potential for bringing down an airliner.

"The device was never going to achieve that, if it worked at all."

The court heard there was no evidence Muhammad, who had no previous convictions, had a terrorist connection.