Up   |  February 17, 2013

Air Force veteran barred from getting on a plane

US Air Force Veteran Saadiq Long has never been told by any US authority that his name is on the no-fly list. He's simply been told he can't fly. He joins Chris Hayes with his lawyer Gadier Abbas.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> 11 plus years since 9/11 we have grown accustomed to new boston policies to get information on u.s. citizens . we're acclimated to the small curtailment of rights. routine searches of our bags when entering a stadium. the large bulk of the official state activities are invisible to the vast majority of americans. somewhere, someone might be reading an e-mail i sent to a friend abroad but if they are i don't know it and i don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. but for this american citizen and ten year air force veteran who converted to islam the policies enacted in the years after 9/11 is anything about remote. he surmised he was placed on the no fly list where he was barred flying from qatar to oklahoma . six months later his story was told. he was allowed to board a flight from qatar to oklahoma . when he purchase ad plane ticket to go back home to his job and family his lawyer sent a letter to the fbi alerting them to his plan saying i write to inform you mr. long has purchased a ticket to doha, qatar that leaves from oklahoma city , oklahoma on february 6 , 2013 . in libt of his past travel difficulties, we ask mr. long be granted the same right. despite that letter he was barred from returning to qatar . he now remains in oklahoma away from his wife, daughter and livelihood. he has never been told by any u.s. authority that his name is on the no fly list nor has he been charged officially with any crimes. he simply been told he can't go home. joining us now, the u.s. air force veteran who joins us from oklahoma city because he was unable to fly here. and can't join us on set. gentlemen, good to have you here. can you tell me, i'm curious about your story. you were in the air force . i think you joined when you were 18 or 19 years old. how did you fine your way to islam?

>> well, when i was stationed in turkey i met two individuals, one of whom worked with me and another one who worked a different office on the base, and they used to present, you know, they would pass out booklets and pamphlets to those of us who were serving there and that's how basically i was introduced to it.

>> and you converted while you were there in turkey?

>> that's right.

>> and then after that you met your wife, you came back to the united states , your met your wife and decided to go live abroad in the middle east .

>> that's right.

>> and why did you make that choice?

>> well, because i guess while i was serving in turkey i guess i fell in love with the culture and the way of the people. just the whole atmosphere, you know. so i decided after getting out of the air force i decided to move to egypt and try to learn the language and mix with the people.

>> so you now have created a life for yourself in the region. you're teaching english i understand at a company. how did you hear about your mother's illness and walk me through what happened when you tried to go home the first time when you purchase ad ticket to go home and visit her?

>> yes. i think my mother, she became ill maybe in the middle of 2011 , and, you know, i had to try to arrange to travel to see her, and around april is when i had everything basically arranged. i guess one or two days prior to the flight is when i received a phone call from the manager of the airline, explaining to me that i would not be able to fly.

>> what explanation did he give you about why you couldn't go home to see your mother who was terminally ill ?

>> well she couldn't really. she just told me she had received a call from the airport security manager and she gave me his number to call. i called him. and he said that he received, i guess, a teletext or something to that effect from the customs and border patrol and they just notified him that, you know, i should not be allowed to get on the airplane.

>> now, there's an official sort of redress process for folks that feel they are mistakenly put on the list and you as his lawyer helped file, right, through this process. and you got a letter back from dhs saying thank you for submitting your travel inquiry form. in response to your request we've conducted a review of any applicable records in consultation with other federal agencies . it has been determined no changes or corrections are warranted at this time. that's all you get.

>> yeah.

>> that's all i get.

>> often you get less. so, this new iteration of letters that dhs pays people courtesy of letting them know whether or not changes have or have not been made. but we regularly see people on no fly lists receive letters essentially say if a change was appropriate we made it, if a change was not appropriate we didn't make it. and what's really disconcerting is that dhs doesn't know why --

>> they literal liu have a list of names.

>> they just have a list of names. it's only fbi and god know why he was placed on the no fly list.

>> i want to ask you this and i don't want to endorse the suspicion that was cast pound for no reason that we know, but i do want to ask you since you're here. do you know why you were put on the list. do you have affiliations with people that make you be a suspicious individual?

>> i have no idea, really.

>> i want to talk about what happened when you got back to the united states and talk about how you feel about being placed in this position of exile now from your wife and child right after this break. know