21,000 people now on U.S. no fly list
Airport security screening
February 2nd, 2012
06:28 PM ET

21,000 people now on U.S. no fly list

By Carol Cratty

The U.S. government's list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to the United States or within its borders has more than doubled over the past year, a counterterrorism official told CNN Thursday.

The "no fly" list produced by the FBI now has approximately 21,000 names on it, according to the official, who has knowledge of the government's figures. One year ago about 10,000 individuals were on it.

Only about 500 people currently on the no-fly list are Americans, the official said.

The dramatic jump in the numbers resulted from reforms made after a Nigerian man with explosives in his underwear was able to get on an international flight bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. It was later learned the father of Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab had gone to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria prior to Christmas to raise concern about his son, but that did not result in his going on the no-fly roster.

The United States can now ban people from flying who are "deemed to be a threat to national security" or who had gone to terrorist training camps, said the official. The earlier standard was to block only those considered a specific threat to try to bring down a plane.

Another reform would have been a particular help in the case of AbdulMutallab. Analysts can now use single-source information, if it's considered credible, to recommend someone for one of the government's terror watch lists, including the no-fly list.

The official said AbdulMutallab's father was a respected businessman and would have been viewed as a credible single source under the new procedures. The official said all the changes are evidence the listing process has "matured."

The government also has a much larger list, called the Terrorist Screening Database, with approximately 510,000 names currently on it. The smaller no-fly list is a subset of that.

About 1,000 changes are made to the catalog of possible terrorists each day. Names are added and deleted, or more information is included on individuals.

AbdulMutallab pleaded guilty in October to charges that carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison. In a courtroom statement, he said he had traveled to Yemen and was "greatly inspired" by U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to participate in the bombing plot.

AbdulMutallab is scheduled for sentencing on February 16. Al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen last year by a U.S. drone strike.

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Filed under: Airport • Anwar al-Awlaki • FBI • Nigeria • Terrorism • Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab • Yemen
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  16. sinbad

    Is Cat Stevens still on the list. He's a dangerous guy singing about peace, definitely anti American.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:14 am | Reply
    • Bob

      I would be careful..!! they just kick out some tourist that tweet about partying, and drinking..
      Uncle Sam is watching..!!

      February 3, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
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  18. mipolitic

    well since the nice people at all states say these 21,000 cannot fly, what about the water ways??? if there was ever a threat after 9/11 this is it. the drug trade has subs , low signature type craft. iranian duds like the small fast multi craft approach. who and what is on these freighters coming in to our ports? paper is the only thing we have to this question until the boat ties up and than we still must physicaly check. i think it is a weak coastal security system. we have to be boarding these freighters hours before they come into port.

    February 3, 2012 at 6:25 am | Reply
    • Roy Cohn

      Keep shitting your pants, buddy. Your paranoia cracks me up.

      Seriously.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Reply
      • mipolitic

        you must have been one of the many that thought 9/11 could never happen !

        February 3, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  19. husseinali

    Why I no fly with my son DeathtoAmerica. We no want trouble. You cannot stop a muslim from flying. Prophet Muhammad flew on horse with no permission.

    February 2, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Reply
    • Galoot

      Good point, but, I would leave your daughter I'veGotABomb at home if I were you.

      February 3, 2012 at 6:45 am | Reply
  20. cas

    I plotted the growth of this list on a graph, it looks like an erectionnn.

    February 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  21. cas

    I am searching for the story where during the fake Iraq war, someone criticized the GOP and later he found himself on the list....anyone remember the name?

    February 2, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Reply
    • Roy Cohn

      Uuummmm........'average joe'?

      February 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  22. Karl Dick Bush Rove

    With some people changing their name to that of one on the list so as to get the free courtesy TSA anaI cavity search.

    One complimentary with every flight, if you're into that sort of thing.

    February 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Reply
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      I love it when they all gather round to laugh at my tiny penis.

      February 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Reply
      • Bob

        One time I asked a TSA if he wanted me to smile, that was not a good idea..

        February 3, 2012 at 10:57 am |

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