FBI working to decipher Italian man’s bible

Remember the story of Bernardo Provenzano? He was the Sicilian mafia boss who was arrested last April. I think many were surprised by the simple Caesar-shift encryption found at the time of his arrest. I figured he only needed to use a simple form of encryption because he was worried more about people who were less likely to crack the code (like his immediate family) than police and security experts trying to track him down.

Well, it turns out now that he was not caught due to the simple encryption and “lack of knowledge of linguistics“, as was often reported earlier, but because of simple old mail tracking. Reuters reports:

Provenzano was found holed up at a farmhouse outside of his hometown of Corleone, made famous by the Godfather movies, after police tracked a package sent by his wife.

While deciphering notes by the Mafia boss helped police figure out the names of the people Provenzano was working with, now they have asked for the FBI’s help with interpreting a copy of the Bible. From Reuters again:

Bernardo Provenzano, the Mafia boss who spent 43 years on the run, had underlined passages in his personal copy of the Bible. Investigators have said these could hold the key to other encoded messages found at his rural hideout.

“The FBI is working with the (Italian) state police to determine whether there are any hidden messages in the Bible,” said a U.S. government official, who asked not to be identified.

Frankly I would be shocked if the FBI doesn’t find any hidden messages in the Bible. More interesting, perhaps, is how many of them will become devout followers after carefully studying the text.

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