Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name was not unknown to American authorities. His father, a prominent Nigerian banker, recently told officials at the United States Embassy in Nigeria that he was concerned about his son’s increasingly extremist religious views.
To: Transportation Security Administration
From: The United States Embassy in Nigeria
Subject: A Matter of the Utmost Urgency
First, I must solicit your strictest confidence in this communication. I am sure and have confidence in your reliability to receive this sensitive information, and to act promptly on this extraordinary tip. We have just received word from a top official of First Bank Nigeria, who has most graciously informed us about an international scheme involving his son. The faster we respond the more invaluable the information will prove to us…
Would you have read on if you were a TSA official? It seems that Al Qaeda nearly outsmarted us on this one. I imagine something like the following:
Al Qaeda recruiter: We’ve got a willing suicide agent, but there is one problem: his father, a prominent Nigerian banker, vows to tip off American authorities if he does anything suspicious.
Osama Bin Laden: I have an idea. Let’s systematically undermine the credibility of prominent Nigerian bankers! It’ll take some years of e-mail fraud, but about a decade from now no intelligence official on earth will credit a tip from his father or any of his colleagues.
Al Qaeda recruiter: And then we will strike the Great Satan, cauisng such great sorrow that they are no longer able to laugh at the world, and are certainly unable to laugh at us.
It’s always good to prove that supposition wrong.