In Wake Of Review, More Details On Watch Lists Alphabet Soup

ZUMA Press/Newscom

A frequent question being asked following the failed Flight 253 terrorist attack on Christmas Day is why wasn’t suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s name on the watch lists that could have prevented the transport of explosive material in a second screening.

President Obama has ordered a review into the travel security and watch-listing procedures, and an administration official detailed for TPMDC the multiple agencies what the review will examine.An administration official told us there are more than 400,000 people in the Terrorist Screening Data Base (TSDB), which is the United States’ main identities database for international terrorism.

That list is a subset of the 550,000 people contained in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), which is the Intelligence Community’s central repository of information on known and suspected international terrorists, the administration says.

The official said fewer than 4,000 of the names in the TSDB appear on the “No Fly” list. Another 14,000 names are on the “Selectee” list, which calls for mandatory secondary screening during travel.

After Abdulmutallab’s father spoke to the US Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, the U.S. shared the information with multiple government ageinces. That created a TIDE record for Abdulmutallab in November 2009, the official said.

But there there was insufficient information at that time based on the existing watch list criteria to include Abdulmutallab on the terrorist watch list, the no fly list or the mandatory secondary screening list, the official said.

The criterion will be part of the review Obama ordered, and the president wants an accounting of all the decisions related to the inclusion of Abdulmutallab’s name.

There are several agencies involved in the watch-listing process, including the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Homeland Security and State Department and other agencies within the Intelligence community.