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The Typo Terrorist: Christmas Bomber allowed to fly due to a spelling error

Believe it or not, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, aka the Christmas or Underwear Bomber, might have been prevented from flying if his name was a little less complicated to spell.

In a report summarizing the attempted terrorist attack of December 25, 2009, it is made apparent that the software used by counter-terrorist intelligence agencies is perhaps not all that great. A month before the attack, Mr Abdulmutallab's father approached the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to warn them about his son's slide towards radical extremism. It was at this stage that the U.S. realized that they'd spelt Mr Abdulmutallab's name wrong, and thus couldn't correlate the information his father was trying to provide with other agencies.

It isn't clear whether the typo itself caused the attempted bombing -- but it does add to the mystery. What is clear is that the software used by the U.S. government and its intelligence agencies is woefully underpowered. Dealing with transliterated non-English names is tricky at the best of times -- but to utilize a search system that doesn't allow for spelling mistakes? That's crazy -- utterly bat-shit crazy.

Maybe they should ask Google for some search tips. Or heck, just let them run the Pentagon's damn search engine.

[via Wired]

Tags: christmas bomber, ChristmasBomber, search, security, software, terrorism, underwear bomber, UnderwearBomber, usa