We can all agree that safe airline travel is a goal to be pursued. And even with some spectacular acts of terror, the skies are overwhelmingly safe. We can debate the correct intensity and intrusiveness of airport security, but there are becoming fewer of us who recall air travel before there was any security at all. So air travelers today mostly accept it as a needed, but inconvenient, precaution.
The problems happen when either the security agents abuse their authority, or when through negligence they fail to detect real bombs. The possibility of the latter happening is what is likely to keep air travelers on edge. And when news is revealed of someone slipping through security with an explosive device in his or her carry-on luggage, people worry.
Then there are the instances where security just screws up in ways that are difficult to imagine, such as the case of Nadeem Muhammed who was discovered to be carrying an explosive device in his luggage at Manchester airport. The problem is that while airport security took the device away from him, they still let him board the plane.
“Nadeem Muhammad, who had been released by airport security after trying to take a ‘crude but viable’ nail bomb onto a Ryanair flight, has been found guilty of possessing explosives with intent to endanger life.
“Forty-three-year-old Muhammad was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court on Tuesday after trying to bring a ‘crude improvised explosive device’ in his carry-on luggage on January 30th, the BBC reports.”
Why would security turn someone loose who was discovered to be carrying a bomb, regardless of how crude, in his luggage at the airport? Fortunately, they did decide to confiscate the thing, but his release is extraordinary.
Well, it is until you learn the rest of the story. The security agents who apprehended him the first time and turned him loose after confiscating the bomb blew the test for explosives.
“The court had heard that the device was detected by airport scanners in Muhammad’s carry-on luggage on his way to Bergamo, Italy. The device was confiscated but swabs failed to detect any explosives. Following questioning from Manchester Airport’s counter terror unit, he was released and returned to his home in Bury.
“On February 5, Pakistani-born Muhammad, who holds an Italian passport, caught another flight to Italy and was only arrested on his return after further investigation of the device led a forensic investigator to ‘immediately suspected it was more sinister’, according to The Telegraph.”
This man has a genius for managing to evade security and haul explosives around on commercial aircraft. Security looks a bit buffoonish. Thankfully, he never set the thing off, an act that would clearly have seriously injured or killed a number of people, and might have brought down the plane.
His court date approaches as he makes a patently absurd statement:
“Muhammed, who claimed he had never seen the device before, will be charged on August 23rd.
“The Crown Prosecution Service said his motive ‘remains unknown’, adding: ‘However, it is clear that the consequences, had he been successful, could have been disastrous.'”
Since we are forced to face the unpleasant reality that there are those who remain determined to commit terrorist acts on commercial airliners, we can hope and insist that airport security personnel are better screened, trained, and supervised than what we found in this incident.