Saadiq Long, a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran who grew up in Oklahoma, who has never been charged, indicted or convicted of a crime, had been trying for nearly a year to visit his ailing mother after discovering he had been put on the No Fly List.
Eventually successful in flying from Qatar to Oklahoma, he is now stranded since attempting to fly out a few weeks ago to go home. As is customary, the U.S. “national security” apparatus is predictably silent. He’s trying again on February 23, 2013.
To get a better understanding of Mr. Long’s predicament, AMERICAN FREE PRESS conducted an exclusive interview with Adam Soltani, the Executive Director CAIR-Oklahoma, which is representing pro bono, the 43-year-old veteran, who discusses this disturbing case, in this revealing interview (11:54).
UPDATE: U.S. Air Force vet again barred from boarding flight this past Saturday
UPDATE: Oklahoma native returns to Middle East
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.
Be sure to check out all of AFP’s free podcasts. You’ll find them on the HOME PAGE, in the ARCHIVES & in the PODCAST section.
Another U.S. Citizen on No Fly List
American Muslims continue to be targeted by Obama administration
By Dave Gahary
It’s no secret that the secretive, un-Constitutional, insulting, nonsensical No Fly List, the United States government’s tool to prevent certain people, even U.S. citizens accused of no wrongdoing, from boarding commercial aircraft for travel in or out of the U.S., has become intensely more Draconian under Barack Obama’s reign as president, as compared to his predecessor, specifically for America’s Muslims.
For the most recent and glaring example of this blatant disregard for Constitutional protections of civil liberties, one need look no further than the Sooner State. It is here, in Oklahoma City, that a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran waits to be allowed to fly back to his family in Qatar, where he lives with his wife and children, and works teaching English as a second language.
Saadiq Long, an American who grew up in Oklahoma, who converted to Islam while learning of the religion while stationed in Turkey, who has never been charged, indicted or convicted of a crime, had been trying for nearly a year to visit his ailing mother after discovering he had been put on the No Fly List. Eventually successful in flying from Qatar to Oklahoma, he is now stranded since attempting to fly out a few weeks ago to go home. As is customary, the U.S. “national security” apparatus is predictably silent.
To get a better understanding of Mr. Long’s predicament, AMERICAN FREE PRESS conducted an exclusive interview with Adam Soltani, the Executive Director CAIR-Oklahoma, which is representing pro bono, the 43-year-old veteran. CAIR-Oklahoma is a local chapter of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose mission is “to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”
AFP asked Mr. Soltani to explain how this matter unfolded.
“In January of 2012, Mr. Long got a call from his family saying that his mother’s been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He was booked to leave in early April 2012, when 24 hours prior to his departure he got a phone call from the head of security at Doha [International] Airport who told him he would not be able to board the plane; his name was flagged in their system and he would have to contact the [U.S.] Embassy. He immediately contacted the Embassy and they said they’d get back to him, and it was about a month later when they directed him to the Department of Homeland Security. He filled out whatever paperwork they asked for and tried to get answers from them, and from May till August he was pursuing the Department of Homeland Security, also working with the Embassy, also reached out to Congressmen and Congresswomen and Senators and the Governor here in Oklahoma, hoping that someone would help. He got a few replies…that said they were unable to help, that it was a matter of national security and he would have to contact his embassy to find out, which is exactly what he had been doing. So finally in August he reached out to CAIR-Oklahoma, and we talked, we took a couple of weeks to look at all the information and discuss with him and find out what’s going on, and finally in September we accepted the case and began working on it. And still it took us another two months before he was able to fly out of Qatar and come back to Oklahoma.”
AFP asked if they gave any reason why he was on the No Fly List.
“No, that’s the strange thing about it. He decided to book the flight on November 8 with the hopes he could make it back in time for Thanksgiving. On that day, November 8, he went to the airport. He didn’t get any phone call ahead of time; he just went to the airport hoping he’d be able to travel. And when he got there they told him, ‘No, I’m sorry, you’re gonna have to contact the Embassy;’ same story as six months prior. We announced through a press conference that he would be trying to travel again…in about 11 days from there. And our attorney…contacted the Secretary of State and Department of Justice. Finally on November 15, 2012, we got a message from the Department of Justice stating that he would be able to book a flight to travel after November 15. It didn’t give any explanation as to why; it didn’t say this is permanent or temporary.”
AFP asked what happened next.
“He attempted to fly on February 6 from Oklahoma City Airport [Will Rogers World Airport]; I was with him, and unfortunately he was unable to travel on that day.”
While waiting to board, the Delta ticket agent stayed on the phone for a while then signaled for security to come over.
“Next thing we know three police officers approach…and then they signal a TSA [Transportation Security Administration] agent to come over, and finally, he…tells us that they were unable to clear Mr. Long through corporate security and it’s a matter of national security and he’d have to contact the local FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] field office to find out more information.”
“The bizarre thing about it is that a week prior to that our attorney…sent a letter to the local FBI field office, stating his exact itinerary, and that he’d be traveling on that date, and asking them, or really pleading with them, to allow him to travel without any difficulties. Mr. Long was never contacted by the FBI after that letter was sent.”
AFP asked if he was able to make sense of any of this.
“He’s always stated from the very beginning he’s willing to sit down and talk with FBI officials and law enforcement and answer any questions or concerns that they have. And he’s even gone as far to ‘If you really are concerned about safety, just put an air marshal [sky marshal] on the plane next to me and let them escort me from here back to Qatar.’”
Mr. Soltani explained the insanity of this system.
“We don’t know if he’s on this list, technically, because the FBI won’t confirm or deny if people are on the No Fly List. The second issue is we don’t know why. No explanations are given. With all the cases CAIR has worked on around the country for people who have been on the No Fly List, there has never been an explanation as to why a person has been on this list.”
“It’s almost understandable…to have a little bit more stringency on letting people into our country, if you want to call it a matter of security, but why not let someone out?”
“He’s losing time from work so he’s losing income; the stress that it’s taking on his family. On top of that he has to continuously rebook his travel plans.”
“A lot of times when you’re a Muslim you’re guilty until proven innocent.”