Nadeem Muhammad was jailed for 18 years after a pipe bomb, initially mistakenly deemed to be not viable, was found in his hand luggage at Manchester Airport.
Muhammad was convicted of possessing an explosive with intent to endanger life.
The man tried to take the device to Italy on 30th January by hiding the device in the zip lining of his small green suitcase.
Manchester Crown Court heard how airport and officials initially believed the bomb was not viable as it had no trace of explosives. Deborah Jeffrey, airport security manager, had even put the device into her pocket before passing it on to the authorities.
“It occurred to me and I’m sure to others listening to the evidence that by acting that way she put herself, her fellow employees and members of the public at risk,” said Judge Patrick Field QC.
43-year-old Muhammad was released and was able to fly to Italy five days later after it was believed the device was not dangerous.
According to an explosives expert, however, it was later revealed via tests that the device could have been viable and would have had the potential to cause injuries and damage if detonated.
The bomb contained nitrocellulose – the main ingredient of gunpowder, and was made of masking tape, batteries, the tube of a marker pen, pins and wires.
The airport staff were criticized by the judge after making “wholly erroneous and potentially dangerous” conclusion that the bomb was not viable.
Judge Field said that he had been “alarmed by some of the evidence in the case”, saying that Naseem Muhammad would “undoubtedly” have carried the bomb on to the plane or into the airport’s departure lounge where he would have detonated it.
“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.”
Muhammad, of Bury, was detained by airport security staff after the bomb was detected when the bag went through x-ray scanners before he boarded the Boeing 737.
An early opportunity to arrest Muhammad was missed, according to the Judge, when he was allowed to board a flight to Italy followed by another back to the UK before arrested finally on February 12th.
In court, Muhammad, who had no previous convictions, claimed that the device had “nothing at all” to do with him and that he had not seen it before it was discovered.
He sobbed as the jury read out their verdict, finding him guilty of possession of explosives with intent to endanger life or property
Russ Jackson, of 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,” he added.
“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.”