a large airport with luggage carts and people

Security is only as good as the weakest link. Since the tragedies of 2001, airports, governments and airlines have worked to make flying the safest form of transportation. But what if passengers no longer pose the greatest threat? In a shocking report, a terror suspect and convicted criminal was found to be working airside at Heathrow Airport. Apparently, getting the job was easy.

a clock tower and a buildingWho

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamud is a convicted criminal. He has 17 aliases and served five years in prison for robbery, sexual assault, threat to kill and money laundering. He’s also been visited by anti terror officials five times, relating to two charges of terrorism offenses. Both cases were dropped due to lack of convicting evidence. You’d think this would bar Mr. Mohamud from flying at all, let alone working airside at a major airport. In this case, you’d be wrong.


Mohamud was hired as a kitchen porter by SM Global Consultancy Ltd after simply lying on his employment form. Criminal conviction? No. The company provides airline staffing solutions at airports around the world. Many of these jobs are high turnover and relatively low pay. Mohamud immediately reported to work at an airport lounge in Terminal 3, after being issued a temporary airside pass. You may have even seen him around! The pass granted one week of immediate airside access.


This transpired in early February, 2018. Mr. Mohamud received his airside pass on a Monday, began airside work on Tuesday and managed to access sensitive areas of the airport, including the tarmac. Why would a lounge kitchen porter be on the tarmac, as a Qatar Airways plane is loaded? He was delighted to snap a few pictures, for proof. Fortunately, Mr. Mohamud was as shocked by the security breach as we are – and got in touch with The Mirror to share his horrifying account.

a large airport terminal with luggage carts and peopleHow The ….?

Face palm. By ticking a box which said “no criminal background”, Mohamud avoided additional security checks. At least in the interim. The temporary passgranted Mr. Mohamud airside access at Heathrow, able to snap pictures of planes with open cargo bays from ground level. Perhaps the deeper background check, which is said to take up to four weeks would’ve revealed the truth of his past, but a month of temporary airside access would be seemingly sufficient for someone with sinister plans.


The airport and parties responsible for the pass assured The Mirror temporary pass holders must be escorted at all times, by full pass holders. Heathrow Airport says no security breaches have occurred. Outside security officials are however, dumbfounded.  How was able to make his way onto the tarmac? How is it THAT easy to gain airside access? Upon the story’s release, his airside pass was immediately revoked and his employment was terminated. You can decide whether that’s telling.

How do you feel about this incident?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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