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US man stranded in Bahrain; told on no-fly list
Jakarta Post
Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A U.S. citizen of Somali descent has been stranded in Bahrain for two weeks after being told his name appears on the U.S. government's no-fly list, and he said Tuesday he does not understand why he has been tagged as a suspected terrorist.

Ali Ahmed, 20, was denied entry into Kenya two weeks ago and flown to Bahrain. In a telephone interview, Ahmed said he was told by the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain that he has been cleared to go home, but when he went to the airport Monday, he was blocked from boarding again.

Ahmed said embassy officials told him Tuesday to book a flight for Sunday to the U.S.

"I hope I'm able to come home Sunday," he said. "The embassy, they told me they don't know why this happened, and their job is to get me home, and they're not going to deal with why I'm on the no-fly list."

The San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a press conference Tuesday to draw attention to his case and has written a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her to intervene.

As a U.S. citizen, Ahmed should be allowed to return to the United States and sort out his situation otherwise it violates his due process rights, said CAIR's Executive Director Hanif Mohebi. He said there have been several cases like Ahmed's.

Ahmed said he has been talking to U.S. lawyers to see what actions he can take to clear his name.

He came to the United States at age 7 with his family, who moved from Kenya after fleeing Somalia's civil war. This was his first trip out of the United States since then.

Ahmed said he went to Saudi Arabia to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. He then flew to Kenya to meet his father, whom he had not seen in 14 years after being separated by the war. He also planned to meet his fiancé for an arranged marriage.

He said a Kenyan agent told him he was on the no-fly list. Officials told him that again in Bahrain, where he contacted the U.S. embassy.

FBI officials said they do not discuss such cases. It said in a statement that "disclosure of such information could be harmful to our nation's security."

In defending the secrecy of the no-fly list in the past, the FBI has said it needs to protect sensitive investigations and to avoid giving terrorists clues for avoiding detection.

A U.S. appeals court last month agreed to hear arguments in a lawsuit filed by 15 men who say their rights were violated because they are on the government's no-fly list. Some are outside the country and unable to return. They are asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order their removal from the list or be given an explanation as to why they were put on it.

The plaintiffs include the imam of an Oregon mosque and a U.S. Marine veteran who is the son of a Palestinian immigrant.

"We truly need to revisit that list and figure out how do we clean it up so it is effective and it keeps our security without jeopardizing our civil rights," Mohebi said.


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