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Federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Utah imam

SALT LAKE CITY – A national group is taking the FBI, the TSA and the Terrorism Screening Center to court after an imam from Utah was denied entry back into the U.S.

The suit is asking for three things.  First, they want the imam to be allowed to travel home.  Second, they want his name taken off the “no fly list,” and third, they want the entire list to be deemed as unconstitutional.

Attorneys for the Council on American-Islamic Relations say Imam Yussuf Abdi learned three years ago that he was placed on something called the “selectee list,” a precursor to the “no fly list,” when he had to go through questioning before a flight.  He went through the TSA to challenge being named on it.  “He received a form letter response from them a couple of months ago that neither confirms nor denies his status on any list,” according to CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri.  She says the federal government will never admit when the FBI places someone on either list.

Masri says Abdi was transferred to the “no fly list” during his current trip to Kenya, and he doesn’t know why.  “You have an innocent American who has never been charged or convicted of any crime, being added without any semblance of due process onto a list that unfairly smears him,” she says.

Officials with the TSA say they don’t operate outside of the United States, and they were not the ones preventing him from boarding any flight back into the country.  Officials with the FBI sent a statement saying they can’t comment on pending litigation.