30-year-old NAVEED SHINWARI hasn’t been allowed to see his wife in 26 months because he refused to become an informant for the FBI. In February of 2012, Shinwari (who has lived in the U.S. since he was 14) flew to Afghanistan to get married. Before he could make it back home to Omaha, Nebraska, he was TWICE detained and questioned by FBI agents who wanted to know if he “knew anything about national security threats.” A THIRD FBI visit followed once he got home.
But the following month when Shinwari purchased a plane ticket for a temporary job in Connecticut, he was REFUSED a boarding pass. Police told him that he had been placed on the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center’s “NO-FLY LIST,“ even though he had NO CRIMINAL RECORD and had NEVER even been ACCUSED of breaking any law. A FOURTH FBI visit soon followed, with agents questioning what he knew about the “local Omaha community” and if he knew “anyone who’s a threat.”
“I’m just very frustrated, [and I said] ‘what can I do to clear my name?’” said Shinwari. “And that’s where it was mentioned to me: ‘you help us, we help you.’ We know you don’t have a job; we’ll give you money.”
Shinwari is one of four American Muslims in a new LAWSUIT, accusing the FBI of placing them on the no-fly list to either intimidate them into becoming informants or to retaliate against them for declining to do so.
Recently filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the case accuses the U.S. Attorney General (ERIC HOLDER), FBI Director (JAMES COMEY), Secretary of Homeland Security (JEH JOHNSON) and two dozen FBI agents of creating an atmosphere in which Muslims who are not accused of ANY wrongdoing are FORBIDDEN from flying, as leverage to get them to snitch on their communities.
The lawsuit seeks not only the plaintiffs’ removal from the no-fly list, but also the establishment of a more robust legal mechanism that can be used to contest ones placement upon it.
“This policy and set of practices by the FBI is part of a much broader set of policies that reflect over-policing in Muslim-American communities,” said DIALA SHAMAS, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
In recent years, Muslim community leaders in the U.S. have been targeted by Zionist-line-toeing law enforcement agencies, particularly thanks to mosque infiltrations and other
borderline-illegal over-zealous surveillance practices. Materials designed to demonize Muslims and Islam is present in FBI counter-terrorism training [EXAMPLES: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4]. The NYPD recently shut down a unit that was tasked with spying on Muslim businesses, mosques and community centers in New York and New Jersey.
Fellow lawsuit claimant JAMEEL ALGIBHAH alleges that the FBI explicitly asked him to “infiltrate a Queens mosque and pose as an extremist in online forums.” An FBI agent told him: “We’re the ONLY ones who can take you off the list.”
This case follows at least one other, which alleges that the FBI attempted to leverage no-fly selectees into informants. That case also challenges as insufficient the process afforded to people seeking to remove themselves from the list.
Shinwari, who now lives in Connecticut and works for a temp agency, has not attempted to return to Afghanistan to see his wife. While he was able to board a flight last month, he wonders if he received a reprieve from the no-fly list that the FBI offered to him in 2012 as enticement to act as an informant for them. REPEATED attempts to formally remove himself from the list have only resulted in vague and inconclusive notifications from the government.
The no-fly list is among the most opaque post-9/11 measures. It is maintained by the FBI and implemented at airports by the Department of Homeland Security. Most of those who have been placed on it are unaware (there is no formal notification process) and those who wish to get their name removed from the list face an overcomplicated redress process. The new lawsuit alleges that the opacity amounts and contributes to WATCH LIST ABUSE.
There are currently over 92,000 names on the U.S.’ no-fly list.
Several earlier lawsuits have attempted to get people off of the no-fly list. In February of 2014, RAHINAH IBRAHIM became the first person since 9/11 to win such a case, after demonstrating that the FBI had added her name to the list by mistake. She had been unable to fly since 2004.
The criteria for inclusion in the list are unclear. It was affirmed in March of 2011 that CHRISTOPHER PIEHOTA, the current director of the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center, had the power to nominate candidates to the list.
Inclusion on the broader Terrorist Screening Database depends upon “whether there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a person is a known or suspected terrorist,” said Piehota. “Mere guesses or ‘hunches,’ or the reporting of suspicious activity alone is not enough to constitute a reasonable suspicion and are not sufficient bases to ‘watchlist’ an individual.” Audits and other quality control measures were periodic, said Piehota.
A recent ACLU study challenged the criteria, saying: “It is not at all clear what separates a ‘reasonable-suspicion-based-on-a-reasonable-suspicion’ from a simple HUNCH.” It called inclusion on a government watch list a “potentially life-altering experience.” A redress system for thwarted travelers is operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and referred complaints to the FBI. A study by the U.S. Justice Department’s Inspector General said that it took the FBI a median of 78 days to remove people from the lists.
Shinwari said that his placement on the no-fly list and his dealings with the FBI have had a chilling effect on him. “I don’t want to open up to people any more or express myself politically or otherwise. It’s definitely had an effect on me participating in my local mosque,” he said. “I just want to see some changes to this process and openness and transparency would be good. That’s what Obama originally ran for.”
~ MERIT FREEMAN
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