Fifteen American Muslims, including four military veterans, are suing the federal government after discovering they were placed on the "no-fly" list.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of these 15 plaintiffs alleging that these U.S. citizens were put on a security risk no-fly list without any credible reasons or security concerns.
“It is unconstitutional for the government to put people on secret lists and deny them the right to travel without even basic due process,” Nusrat Choudhury, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project said in ACLU press release. “Without a meaningful way for people to challenge their inclusion on the list, there's no way to keep innocent people off it.
Ibrahim "Abe" Mashal, a 31-year old dog trainer and veteran marine on the K-9 unit, told KCRW's To The Point that he uncovered he was on the no-fly list while checking in for a flight from Chicago to Spokane.
"I went in, went up to the ticket counter to check in, gave the lady my license and she kind of gave me a strange look and then she went into the back room for about five minutes with my license..." Mashal told KCRW. "When she came back out I turned around and I was surrounded by probably at least 30 TSA and Chicago police and she then informed me I was on the no-fly list ... and that the FBI was on their way to the airport because they would like to speak to me. I kind of expected Ashton Kutcher to jump out and tell me I was being punked."
Mashal was later invited to an unnamed hotel and told by FBI agents that he could be taken off the "no-fly" list if he agreed to go undercover, spy on other Muslims and report information back.
"At that point I told them I'm no longer comfortable speaking without a lawyer present and they told me I had to leave after that," Mashal told KCRW.
The Illinois chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relation says Mashal's case isn't unique; rather, across the 19 states where CAIR has offices, there have been "dozens" of such complaints.
“I have no idea why I’m on the list,” Mashal told ACLU. “I should have the chance to clear my name and live my life normally. This has been a real hardship for me both personally and financially.”
A spokesman for the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center told the Wall Street Journal that about 20,000 U.S. residents are on the no-fly list; 500 of those are American citizens.
According to ACLU's press release, last week ACLU argued at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Portland to reinstate its challenge to the government's secretive no-fly list, arguing for due process for each of the 15 plaintiffs.