Boston Marathon investigators may have uncovered a costly typographical error that could have prevented the tragic event that occurred on April 15, 2013 from escalating to the level of chaos that it did. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was reportedly already on a watch list by Russian officials for suspicious activity in regards to being a possibly involved with an Islamic terrorist group. The Russian Federal Security Service took appropriate measures and made several attempts to alert the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations in regards to questioning Tsarnaev’s suspicious behavior. Tsarnaev was placed on a “hot list” so that an alert would be sent the proper authorities of all attempted departures and arrivals to and from the United States by Tsarnaev. Under normal circumstances, this protocol would be considered a legitimate safeguard to help keep a careful eye on who enters and exits the United States to cut down on the risks of a possible threat for a terrorist attack against a country. The Boston Marathon bombing suspect was allowed to pass through customs without interruption, all because of the misspelling of one alphabet.
On January 21, 2012, the Boston Marathon suspect Tsarnaev went to John F. Kennedy Airport and passed through all the security checkpoints in order to board an airplane that was destined for Moscow, Russia. No “hot list” alarm was set off. On July 17, 2012, the same Boston Marathon suspect reentered the United States via an airplane that landed at John F. Kennedy Airport. Again, no “hot list” alarm was set off. Attributed to this profoundly simple mistake was reportedly a misspelling of one letter in Tsarnaev’s name on the watch list. As a consequence of Tsarnaev’s name being spelled as “Tsarnayev,” the system did not pick up the physical presence of the Boston Marathon suspect at the airport in New York before departing on the airplane out of the country as well as reentering. Assuming that the “hot list” does not sound off or compensate in some way for typographical errors by performing a synonym, antonym, or auto-correction check on names, those who play a part in the welfare for the public’s safety had no cause for alarm during both moments when the Boston Marathon suspect was present.
One thought that might come to mind when learning of such a costly error as that of a misspelled name on a crucial list is what immediate measure can and will be taken in order to ensure this negligent mistake may never ever happening again. Hopefully, there are not more incidences of this kind of microscopic mistake on record that has already slipped past the supervising eyes that overlook the security operations for the United States. It might be completely accurate to come to the conclusion that no one in America, or anyone in the world for that matter, would want to relive the nightmarish event similar to that of the Boston Marathon; the last thing anyone should ever desire to see is another picture going viral similar to that which is above.
Opinion by Stephanie Tapley