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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
Man jailed over airport grenade
Hazil Rahaman-Alan
Hazil Rahaman-Alan said he wanted to highlight the plight of humanity
A potential suicide bomber who flew to the UK from Venezuela with a hand grenade in his luggage has been jailed for six years.

Hazil Rahaman-Alan boarded a BA jet in Caracas in February 2003 and the grenade was carried to Gatwick Airport in his case in the hold.

The Venezuelan, 39, admitted having a high explosive hand grenade with intent to endanger life in court last month.

He was jailed for six years at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Gatwick's North Terminal was closed after the grenade was found and 40 flight departures were delayed.

'Plight of humanity'

Rahaman-Alan was questioned by anti-terrorist officers and charged under the Terrorism Act.

He told police he wanted to blow himself up in an open area, but the hand grenade had not had a detonator on it and it was found in a random search of his suitcase.

You wanted to give a message of peace - you chose a strange way of doing it
Judge Gerald Gordon

His trial heard when he was interviewed after his arrest, Rahaman-Alan said "the grenade would be his microphone to the world" to draw attention to "the suffering of children and the plight of humanity".

The terrorism charges were later changed to offences under the Explosives Act and the Aviation Act and at his sentencing Judge Gerald Gordon said he accepted Rahaman-Alan was not a terrorist.

The court heard Rahaman-Alan had been travelling the world after becoming depressed following the death of his father, a violent burglary at his home and a break-up with his wife who left him, taking their daughter.

'Instant death'

When he returned to Venezuela he bought the grenade in a poor part of the capital Caracas for the equivalent of about 50, the court heard.

He went to the airport and said it was by sheer chance he had boarded a British Airways flight to Gatwick.

The grenade
The grenade was found in a random suitcase search

The judge told him: "You wanted to give a message of peace - you chose a strange way of doing it".

Judge Gordon added that had the grenade exploded, it would have "caused mayhem and instant death to anyone holding it."

"In addition it would have endangered the lives of those anywhere nearby," he said.

He said he accepted Rahaman-Alan was unlikely to commit a similar offence again but that a deterrent message needed to be sent to people who might do so.

The judge ordered that Rahaman-Alan be deported back to Venezuela at the end of his sentence.

After being sentenced, Rahaman-Alan said from the dock, through an interpreter: "I am sorry that I caused so many problems but I didn't realise it at the time."

See the disruption caused at Gatwick Airport


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