Judicial Watch • Terrorists Keep U.S. Aviation Licenses

Terrorists Keep U.S. Aviation Licenses

Terrorists Keep U.S. Aviation Licenses

JUNE 26, 2009


At least half a dozen men suspected or convicted of terrorism have been allowed by the U.S. government to keep their federal aviation licenses, including two who appear on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and a Libyan sentenced to nearly three decades in prison by a Scottish court for the 1980s bombing of an American airliner.

Reported by a major newspaper this week, the appalling story illustrates the government’s never ending incompetence when it comes to national security. This, despite strict antiterrorism measures enacted after the September 2001 terrorist attacks requiring the aviation license revocations of such individuals.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were unaware that the terrorists were actively licensed pilots, mechanics and flight dispatchers until the reporter who wrote the piece started snooping around. Incredibly, neither agency noticed that two of the individuals (Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhima) are wanted by the FBI for the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing.

Others include an Iranian convicted of trying to ship jet fighter parts to Iran and a Lebanese living in Michigan who was convicted for trying to provide military equipment to the Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah. The FAA even reissued the commercial pilot license of a southern California man jailed for trying to send thousands of aircraft parts to Iran and a Maryland man convicted of manufacturing ricin, a powerful poison favored by terrorists.

A little family-owned company in a small New York town discovered the federally licensed terrorists by using software it developed to scour lists of bank customers who might have links to terrorism. The Department of Homeland Security, which supposedly preempts, detects and deters terrorism threats, claims it’s conducting a comprehensive review to see why its system failed to identify these people. 

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