The Underwear Bomber

The Case of the Underwear Bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to blow up a passenger plane on Christmas Day, 2009, is chiefly remembered as a shocking demonstration of the aviation system’s vulnerability. Eight years and billions of dollars after 9/11, a single man was able to defeat security and bring a bomb onto a commercial airliner, very nearly destroying it and killing 300 innocent travelers. It appears that the primary lessons learned are that we have to improve our intelligence coordination and upgrade security technology at airport checkpoints. Rather than look at situations from “Outside-In” – starting from where you are and working towards the danger you are trying to avoid – you this module suggests that instead you reverse-engineer backwards from the worst-case scenario, trying to take away critical elements that might expose new ways of defeating security. This risk management approach is termed by Kip Hawley, former Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as “Inside-Out” Risk Management.

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