Spelling Error Allowed Boston Bomber To Avoid Detention

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While billions upon billions has been spent by Homeland Security since its creation following the events of September 11th, 2001, a simple spelling error appears to have allowed Tamerlan Tsarnaev to avoid airport detention upon his entrance into or exit from the United States.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing on April 13, 2012 that left three dead and dozens injured and maimed.

Gross error might have led to Boston Marathon bombing

According to NBC News, the report, which is yet to be released, states that on two separate occasions Russian intelligence organizations warned the United States about Tsarnaev nearly a year and half before the 2012 bombing.

Once the FSB (Russian intelligence born of the KGB) contacted the FBI with a detailed letter about the terrorist intent and training of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an investigation was launched.

The investigation was performed by members of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force, an interagency group that includes federal, state and local law enforcement representatives.

An interview of Tsarnaev was conducted by a member of the BJTT. Tsarnaev was also entered into a Customs and Border Protection database called TECS. Unfortunately, the surname was spelled incorrectly. Everything else, however was spelled correctly and issued immediate detention.

The missed order

“Subject is of interest to the Boston JTTF,” said the TECS memo. “If subject is encountered, contact FBI Special Agent [Name and contact information redacted by Department of Homeland Security]. Conduct a full CTR Secondary” – interview and search the subject — “if encountered entering or exiting the U.S.”

A more immediate order was added to TECS in October of 2011, according to NBC News, requiring a mandatory search and detention of Tsarnaev if he left the country. “Detain isolated and immediately call the lookout duty officer,” the note reportedly said. “Call is mandatory whether or not the officer believes there is an exact match.”

Tsarnaev’s name was also misspelled when it was entered into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment.

Because of the single-letter misspelling, Tsarnaev was allowed to travel to Russia and return without triggering the detention order.

Ed Davis, who was Boston’s chief of police at the time of the bombing may have summed up this huge gaffe and apparently preventable attack perhaps said it best today, “This sounds like a huge hole and an opportunity missed.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police following the bombing while his brother, captured in a city-wide lockdown and manhunt, has plead not guilty on all counts as he faces and awaits trial.

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About the Author

Brendan Byrne
While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala. To contact Brendan or give him an exclusive, please contact him at theflask@gmail.com