Statement of Mohamed Ibrahim
ACLU "No-Fly" Lawsuit
I am joining the ACLU lawsuit challenging the No-Fly list because I believe there is something terribly wrong with the government's system of identifying innocent people and placing them on the No-Fly list. It must be improved, and the targeting of innocent people must be stopped.
I travel regularly, at least twice a month. Since November 2003, I have been repeatedly delayed, detained, interrogated, embarrassed and subjected to ""enhanced"" screening procedures whenever I have attempted to board an aircraft. Since 2003, I have also not been able to use computer e-ticketing because I am on the No-Fly list.
My first experience with the No-Fly list occurred in November 2003 when I attempted to board a flight from Philadelphia to San Diego. Because I was unable to obtain my boarding pass through the Internet, I was directed to see a ticket agent. After presenting my identification, the agent took it to a room; about ten minutes later I asked to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor informed me in front of other passengers that I had been placed on a watch list and that I should call the FBI. I was extremely embarrassed and could not imagine why I was on the No-Fly list. Eventually I was cleared to board, but not before I was subjected to enhanced screening that included a physical pat-down of my body and a hand-search of my luggage.
In early 2004 I traveled to India on business; when I returned to the United States via Cairo, Egypt, I was stopped by uniformed police officers while waiting on an immigration line. I was not only embarrassed, I became frightened as well. My luggage was searched again, delaying me 45 minutes. When I reentered the United States at Kennedy Airport in New York and presented my passport, I was told to wait for a customs agent and I was pulled out of line. When the agent arrived, I was directed to present my luggage, which was searched by two uniformed officers. The agents also opened all of my documents, including personal correspondence. When they were satisfied that my identity was confirmed I asked them if this would happen to me again in the future. The agents could not assure me that I would not be subjected to similar searches and delays in the future.I am an innocent American and I should not be on the No-Fly list. I want to put a stop to the government bureaucracy harassing not only me, but other social justice activists too. I believe that I am on the list because I have exercised my protected First Amendment rights; for instance, I have regularly challenged the scope and purpose of the Patriot Act. In my work, I strongly oppose torture in totalitarian regimes, in particular in Sudan. I feel that I have been targeted, perhaps like other activists, because of my opposition to the government on many measures taken in the post 9/11 period. These unfair practices should stop now.