The Underwear Bomber

Case Study: The Underwear Bomber


Select at least three articles or documents on the incident that you chose to analyze.


Case Study: The Underwear Bomber

The purpose of this assignment is to review the 2009 “Underwear Bomber” case and evaluate the implications for airport security measures.

Write short answers to the following questions. (A few sentences for each question is sufficient.)



Bullock, J. A., Haddow, G.D., & Coppola, D. P. (2013). Introduction to homeland security (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Elsevier.

Read Chapter 7: Transportation Safety and Security

View Presentation: Case Study: The Underwear Bomber

Center for Homeland Defense and Security.


The Case of the Underwear Bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to blow up a passenger plane on Christmas Day, 2009, is chiefly remembered as a shocking demonstration of the aviation system’s vulnerability. Eight years and billions of dollars after 9/11, a single man was able to defeat security and bring a bomb onto a commercial airliner, very nearly destroying it and killing 300 innocent travelers. The primary lessons learned are (were) that that the nation must improve intelligence coordination and upgrade security technology at airport checkpoints. Rather than look at situations from “Outside-In” – starting from where you are and working towards the danger you are trying to avoid – this module suggests that instead you reverse-engineer backwards from the worst-case scenario, trying to take away critical elements that might expose new ways of defeating security. This risk management approach is termed by Kip Hawley, former Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as “Inside-Out” Risk Management. Lecture

a.) How did the would-be bomber successfully pass through airport security?

b.) Why was the attack unsuccessful?

c.) What lessons for improving airport security may be drawn from this case?

d.) Contrast the “Outside-In” and “Inside-Out” approaches to planning for transportation security. How might these approaches apply to other modes of transportation (such as by rail or ship)?

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