A Slovak man unwittingly carried hidden explosives on board a weekend flight to Dublin after a Slovakian airport-security test went awry, Irish officials announced.
Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak expressed "profound regret" to the Irish government for the oversight and the three-day delay in alerting Irish authorities. Dublin security chiefs said it was foolish for the Slovaks to hide bomb parts in the luggage of unwitting passengers under any circumstances.
Security experts said the episode illustrated the inadequacy of security screening of checked-in luggage — the very point the Slovak authorities had sought to test when they placed real bomb components in nine passengers' bags on Saturday.
Eight were detected. But the bag containing about 90 grams (3 ounces) of RDX plastic explosive travelled undetected through security at Poprad-Tatry Airport in central Slovakia onto a Danube Wings aircraft. The Slovak carrier launched services to Dublin last month.
The Dublin Airport Authority confirmed that no incoming baggage is screened in Dublin. The man didn't find out about the explosives cache until Irish police, acting on a Slovak tip-off, raided his inner-city apartment yesterday morning.
Police said they initially were led to believe the man might be a terrorist, until Slovak authorities provided more information about their role in planting the explosive.
Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said Dublin police eventually confirmed that the explosive "was concealed without his knowledge or consent ... as part of an airport security exercise."
A major north Dublin intersection was shut down and neighbouring apartment buildings were evacuated as a precaution while Irish Army experts inspected the explosive. The man was released without charge after several hours' detention.
An Irish Army spokesman, Commandant Gavin Young, stressed that the explosive posed no threat to passengers because it was stable — meaning it wouldn't explode on its own if hit or placed under pressure — and was not connected to other essential bomb parts.
The Dublin Airport Authority says it periodically tests the skills of baggage screeners — but only using bags under the control of security officers, not civilian passengers.