Three Veterans Stranded Abroad on No-Fly List

Saturday, July 10, 2010
Raymond Knaeble IV

Three veterans of the U.S. military have joined with seven others in filing a legal challenge to the government’s “no fly” list which seeks to keep terrorist threats from entering the United States. Seven of the ten are U.S. citizens, two are legal permanent residents and one is a citizen of Guinea who has refugee status.

Aided by the American Civil Liberties Union, the 10 plaintiffs have sued the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming the no-fly list is unconstitutional. Seven of the men have been left stranded outside the U.S. in other countries because their names appear on the list, while the other three were not allowed to board flights in the United States. In the words of the lawsuit, the U.S. government considers them “too dangerous to fly, but too harmless to arrest.”
Ayman Latif, 32, who was born in Miami but now lives in Egypt, is a former U.S. Marine now stuck in Egypt. He tried to return to the U.S. for a VA disability evaluation, but was barred from boarding a flight back. The VA then reduced his monthly disability payment for failing to show up for the exam.
Army veteran Raymond Knaeble IV, 29, was born and raised in California. A convert to Islam, he accepted a job with ITT Solutions, a Colorado-based government contractor. The position as a heavy mobile equipment mechanic/driver in Qatar was contingent on a pre-employment medical examination to be conducted in Texas. On the way back to the United States, he stopped in Colombia to be married. When he tried to continue to the U.S. he was turned back at the airport and was unable to attend the medical exam.
Steven Washburn, a 54-year-old Air Force veteran from Las Cruces, New Mexico was on a flight from London to Mexico when his no-fly status was discovered and the plane was diverted back to London. Later, he did get as far as Mexico, but was detained by Mexican authorities.
“Thousands of people have been barred altogether from commercial air travel without any opportunity to confront or rebut the basis for their inclusion, or apparent inclusion, on a government watch list known as the ‘No Fly List,’” reads the lawsuit.
The lawsuit does not include Yahya Wehelie, a U.S. citizen who has been stuck in Egypt since trying to return home from an 18-month stay in Yemen. Like those suing the government, Wehelie’s name showed up on the special list, causing the FBI in Cairo to stop him from continuing his flight back to the U.S.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
Ayman Latif et al. v. Eric Holder (U.S. District Court, Portland, OR) (pdf)


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