Jack Halpern


   Data Licensing

Expanded OFAC -- Variants of Arabic Names in OFAC


  • Contains millions of potential and actual variants not found in SDN List.
  • Many XOFAC entries are real aliases.
  • Provides variants of the full name, not name components (as in DAN).
  • Highly effective in eliminating false negatives.


CJKIs flagship Database of Arab Name Variants (DAN) is a database of Arabic names and their romanized variants that currently contains seven million entries. As part of its feature set, DAN also provides comprehensive coverage of all the Arabic names and their aliases found in the United States Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List.

The SDN List contains individuals and organizations that are considered a security risk, and that United States citizens are prohibited from doing business with. It is used worldwide in security and AML applications, border control and watch list filtering.

However, the US government's watch lists have come under fire from members of US Congress as being "crippled by technical flaws." One of the major factors behind these assertions is the inability to correctly identify and process the numerous variants of the names appearing in the watch lists. That is, there are numerous potential and actual variants of OFAC names which are not found the OFAC list. This poses a real danger that criminals and suspicious individuals will fail to be identified.

When maximum recall is desired

To address the shortcomings of OFAC's SDN List, CJKI has exploited the linguistic and technical resources used to create the DAN database to develop a comprehensive Expanded OFAC database (referred to as XOFAC) of full name variants, the vast majority of which are not listed in OFAC's SDN List.

Containing millions of potential and actual variants of the Arab names in OFAC's SDN List, XOFAC is ideal for those agencies and institutions that require maximum recall in their compliance and watch list filtering applications.

Please note that there is no guarantee that the millions of entries in XOFAC actually refer to the SDN individual in question, or that they even exist. That is, they consist of potential and actual combinations of orthographically valid variants, some of which are legitimate and some of which could be used by other persons of the same name, or not at all. However, if the goal is to achieve maximum recall, comprehensive variant coverage is of great benefit and has no negative effects except possibly for system resources.

It is also important to note that XOFAC is structured differently from DAN. While DAN is a database of name components (surnames, given names, name elements), XOFAC consists of variants of full names only; in other words, names of actual and potential individuals and their variants.

Let us take the name Hatim Ahmad BARAKAT (خاتم أحمد بركات) as an example. OFACs SDN List has the following entries for this name:

  • Hatim Ahmad BARAKAT (main SDN entry)
  • Hatam Ahmad BARAKAT (SDN alias)
  • Hatem Ahmad BARAKAT (SDN alias)
  • Hattem Ahmad BARAKAT (SDN alias)
  • Hotem Ahmad BARAKAT (SDN alias)

The table below lists the top 15 out of about 130,000 actual and potential variants of the SDN name Hatim Ahmad BARAKAT, which appear in CJKI's XOFAC database. Only the fourth entry (Hatem Ahmad Barakat) in the top 15 actually appears in the above SDN list. Therefore, even among the top 15 full name variants in XOFAC, this person's official SDN name and three of his listed aliases are not to be found.

Data samples

top 15 out of about 130,000 actual and potential variants
of the SDN name Hatim Ahmad BARAKAT (خاتم أحمد بركات)
Hatem Ahmed Barakat 0001580000 0039000000 0001180000
Hatim Ahmed Barakat 0000925000 0039000000 0001180000
Hatem Ahmed Bereket 0001580000 0039000000 0000651000
Hatem Ahmad Barakat 0001580000 0025600000 0001180000
Khadem Ahmed Barakat 0000194000 0039000000 0001180000
Hatem Ahmed Bareket 0001580000 0039000000 0000057200
Hattem Ahmed Barakat 0000180000 0039000000 0001180000
Hatem Ahmed Berekat 0001580000 0039000000 0000033400
Hatem Ahmet Barakat 0001580000 0018400000 0001180000
Hadim Ahmed Barakat 0000114000 0039000000 0001180000
Hatem Ahmed Baraket 0001580000 0039000000 0000016300
FREQ 1, 2 and 3 represent the frequency of occurrence on the web of Hatim, Ahmad, and Barakat variants, respectively.
Validated full name variants for Mohamed Ben Belgacem AOUADI not listed in OFAC's SDN List
Mohamed Ben Belgacem AOUADI Mohamed Ben Belkacem AOUADI Mohammed Ben Belgacem AOUADI
    Muhammad Bin Belgacem AWADI
    Mohamed Ben Belgacem AL AOUADI