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Muslims suing over watch-list status say government removes them from list to avoid legal scrutiny



It’s likely that these people have a solid case. There is no reason to think that the government would manage the Terrorist Screening Database and the No Fly List in a just and transparent manner. It is unfortunate, however, that the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is involved, as its emphasis is so decisively upon the putative victimhood of Muslims that even Osama bin Laden would likely not have been on the No Fly List if CAIR operatives had been running it.

“Muslims suing over watch-list status say U.S. tactics block scrutiny,” by Rachel Weiner, Washington Post, October 16, 2022:

Saadiq Long was only allowed to visit his mother after FBI agents questioned her. He was strip-searched at an airport in Amsterdam and arrested when visiting Turkey. He was banned from two Gulf states and fired from a trucking company.

Nine years of such troubles, he came to believe, all arose from his placement on a list of suspected terrorists banned from air travel in the United States. Long, a veteran and Muslim convert, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alexandria, Va. But as his lawsuit started moving forward in 2019, the government told him he had been removed from the list.

Advocates say the reversal is part of a pattern from the government to evade scrutiny of the Terrorist Screening Database, a secret, FBI-maintained list of known or suspected terrorists subject to heightened security screening at borders, and of the smaller No Fly List of those barred from U.S. airspace.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been placed on the lists since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. For years, civil liberties groups have challenged the process of determining who is on the two lists as unconstitutional but say they’re often hampered by the government’s tactics.

“The Government removes people from their secret lists only when they fear that a court might impose restraint on their lawlessness,” said Gadeir Abbas, an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)litigating Long’s case. “If the FBI has its way, delisting a person will become a kind of cheat code the federal government can use to deny people their day in court.”

The group has eight such examples, he said. The latest involves Abdulkadir Nur, a Somali-born U.S. citizen who lives in Virginia and says in court filings he had been subjected to extensive, intrusive searches at U.S. airports since 2008. That year, Nur was part of a United Nations relief convoy in Somalia that local insurgents raided; he was questioned in the subsequent investigation but never accused of wrongdoing.

Nur got no confirmation that he was ever on the terrorism watch list or taken off it. His attorneys say they can infer both from the scrutiny he consistently received at airports until this month, when he did not get searched or interrogated for the first time in 12 years.

“The Government … merely has stopped violating the law against Nur, and only to wrangle out of a lawsuit it cannot win,” his attorneys wrote….