Decertifying "Terrorist" Pilots
This article reads like something written by the company's PR team.
When it comes to sleuthing these days, knowing your way within a database is as valued a skill as the classic, Sherlock Holmes-styled powers of detection.
Safe Banking Systems Software proved this very point in a demonstration of its algorithm acumen -- one that resulted in a disclosure that convicted terrorists actually maintained working licenses with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
The algorithm seems to be little more than matching up names and other basic info:
It used its algorithm-detection software to sift out uncommon names such as Abdelbaset Ali Elmegrahi, aka the Lockerbie bomber. It found that a number of licensed airmen all had the same P.O. box as their listed address -- one that happened to be in Tripoli, Libya. These men all had working FAA certificates. And while the FAA database information investigated didn't contain date-of-birth information, Safe Banking was able to use content on the FAA Website to determine these key details as well, to further gain a positive and clear identification of the men in question.
In any case, they found these three people with pilot's licenses:
Elmegrahi, who had been posted on the FBI Most Wanted list for a decade and was convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103, killing 259 people in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Elmegrahi was an FAA-certified aircraft dispatcher.
Re Tabib, a California resident who was convicted in 2007 for illegally exporting U.S. military aircraft parts -- specifically export maintenance kits for F-14 fighter jets -- to Iran. Tabib received three FAA licenses after his conviction, qualifying to be a flight instructor, ground instructor and transport pilot.
Myron Tereshchuk, who pleaded guilty to possession of a biological weapon after the FBI caught him with a brew of ricin, explosive powder and other essentials in Maryland in 2004. Tereshchuk was a licensed mechanic and student pilot.
And the article concludes with:
Suffice to say, after the FAA was made aware of these criminal histories, all three men have since been decertified.
Although I'm all for annoying international arms dealers, does anyone know the procedures for FAA decertification? Did the FAA have the legal right to do this, after being "made aware" of some information by a third party?
Of course, they don't talk about all the false positives their system also found. How many innocents were also decertified? And they don't mention the fact that, in the 9/11 attacks, FAA certification wasn't really an issue. "Excuse me, young man. You can't hijack and fly this aircraft. It says right here that the FAA decertified you."
Posted on November 23, 2009 at 2:36 PM • 26 Comments