What We Can Learn from Flight 253

Missed signs, cumbersome lists and spotty screening permitted a terrorist to take a makeshift bomb on a Christmas flight to Detroit. What the U.S. should learn from a near calamity


The 23-year-old son of a banker from Nigeria should have tripped every alarm in the global aviation-security system put in place after 9/11: He bought a $2,831 ticket for flights from Lagos to Amsterdam to Detroit and paid for it in cash. He left no contact information with the airline. He checked no bags. Seven months earlier, he had earned himself a spot on a security watch list in Britain after applying for a visa to attend a dubious English university. And when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab broke off contact with his family in October to join the war on...

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