Solution - The Dogged Pursuit of Justice, AKA: Caught Red-Handed

by Paul Melamud and Jonathan McCue

Answer: Click here to reveal

Solvers were presented with a list of nonsense names, aliases, and professions paired with a list of descriptions of nefarious criminals. There were 52 entries in the list and numerous references to cards in the flavortext and sure enough, each of the aliases uniquely identifies a different playing card. The Wikipedia page on playing card names helps identify many of them, but in the cases where a particular card didn't have a unique nickname, a word was chosen to clue the suit: spades are clued by pointy weapons and shovels, diamonds by riches, hearts by love and passion, and clubs used some of the most popular dance/music clubs in Cambridge and Boston.

The list on the right side each describe one of the members of The Blacklist from the NBC show of the same name. Two weeks before Hunt, there were exactly 52 such members (all of whom were used), but a new member was revealed on January 7, 2016 necessitating the inclusion of a date in the flavortext. Each Blacklister could be identified from their description and thus paired with a specific card. (See below)

The Blacklisters sometimes go by multiple names, but each episode of The Blacklist is named after a particular Blacklister and the episode titles served as the canonical list for this puzzle. Indexing into the Blacklister names by the values of the cards they were associated with yielded the following:


Looking at the string, some words can be made out, but they are broken up by extra letters (bolded above). Ignoring the 14 extra letters for the moment, the message USE LIST NUMBER WITH THE TRUE GANGS FULL CARDS. Hopefully, the use of playing cards being paired with most-wanted criminals will bring to mind the deck of Iraqi Most Wanted playing cards used in the Desert Storm campaign.

To confirm this idea, the initials of the previously unused given names and professions match up exactly with the ones on the Iraqi Most Wanted deck. The Blacklist numbers of the 14 Blacklisters that didn't work before in the earlier message are now used to index into the full text of their corresponding Iraqi card giving the final clue message:


Googling this phrase should quickly result in solvers learning that Abd Al-Ilah was bestowed with the title of CROWN PRINCE.