Cat Stevens Only the Latest Flight Passenger Targeted
San Francisco Bay Area
30 Sep 2004 06:52 GMT
No-Fly Lists and Other Forms of Flight Intimidation
What is known is that the Transportation Safety Administration administers two lists: a "no-fly" list and a "selectee" list, which requires a passenger who is attempting travel to go through additional security measures. The names are provided to air carriers through Security Directives or Emergency Amendments and are stored in their computer systems so that an individual with a name that matches the list can be flagged when getting a boarding pass. A "no-fly" match requires the agent to call a law enforcement officer to detain and question the passenger. In the case of a Selectee, an "S" or special mark is printed on their boarding pass and the person receives additional screening at security. The TSA has withheld the number of names on each of the lists. Results of Electronic Privacy Information Center's FOIA request.
On September 21st, Yusuf Islam (also known as singer Cat Stevens), was on a flight from London to Washington, DC. While the plane was in the air, he was identified by the Advanced Passenger Information System and the plane, along with all of its passengers, was diverted to Maine, where he was separated from his daughter, interrogated by the FBI, and denied entry into the country. Islam is a devout Muslim and has largely left his music career behind since he converted to Islam. However, last year he re-recorded his 1970's hit "Peace Train" to express his opposition to the US invasion of Iraq. In a statement on his website, he says, "What makes the situation even more distressing is the fact that I have now been prevented from entering the United States - a part of God’s earth that I love and whose people have always been great friends to me." So far, he has not been told why he was denied entry into the country. Perhaps his name was confused with that of another man whose name is spelled differently. It has been said that the authorities claim to believe that donations from Islam may have helped fund Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric who was convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that the U.S. and Israeli governments consider a terrorist organization. Whatever the reason, he is taking legal action to find out why he was denied entry into the US. Many in Muslim communities worry that this event could be the first of a series of detentions of Muslims before the election. UK Yusuf Islam Website
The ACLU earlier this year filed a national lawsuit challenging the No-Fly list. Massachusetts Sentaor Ted Kennedy found himself on the no-fly list, and it took him several weeks to get his name removed. Other political activists including members of the Green Party have also been targetted in the post-911 attempt at creating a sense of "security" for passengers of airplanes in the US. The list is notoriously inaccurate- earlier this month, the name of Alaska Republican Donald E. Young, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, was mistaken for the name of a person who is on the list. Many in the US are critical of the list