Monday, January 16, 2006

The recent "no-fly" list incident takes a weird turn.

Well, now, isn't this interesting?

Canadian ex-Hezbollah member

A Lebanese Canadian who was denied entry to Mexico after his name appeared on an American no-fly list originally came to Canada using a false French passport, had been a member of a Middle East terrorist group and was twice denied refugee status here, the Toronto Star has learned.

At this point, one might think, "Well, then the system worked after all, nailing someone with obvious terrorist connections. Good for that no-fly list." Instead, this just makes things weirder.

But Sami Kahil, who owns a Scarborough shoe store, says the twists and turns of his background — including "forced" membership in the terrorist organization Hezbollah — still don't explain why the U.S government has taken a sudden interest in him, and put his name on a no-fly list.

And Kahil's right -- how exactly did his name get on that U.S. no-fly list? It seems clear that his association with Hezbollah would have come out during his refugee hearings, but does this mean Canada is sharing its findings on refugee claimants with the U.S.? That idea creeps me out just a little bit.

Furthermore, if Canada deemed Mr. Kahil to be a security risk of some kind, why was he allowed to remain in Canada for 14 years after his claim for refugee status was rejected? Apparently, Canadian authorities didn't think he was that much of a security risk, did they? But here's the strangest part.

If Canada already knew of Kahil's Hezbollah ties, and Kahil was on the U.S. no-fly list, why was he even allowed to board the plane? From memory, the plane was already in the air for 15 minutes on its way to Mexico before someone on the ground notified the plane of Kahil's presence. How did that happen?

Normally, people on the U.S. no-fly list are stopped at boarding when their name comes up on the list. Why didn't this happen with Kahil? But one can back this up even further.

If Kahil was such a travel risk, why was he allowed to even purchase a ticket? Surely, if someone can be checked against the no-fly list in a few seconds at the gate, they can be checked against that list while purchasing a ticket, or in the days between purchase and actual travel. So why didn't that happen here?

Originally, the question was: Why was a simple Canadian citizen hassled by the U.S. no-fly list? With these new developments, one can now ask: If Kahil was such a dangerous man, who fucked up so badly as to allow him to get on a plane and allow that plane to get into the air before anyone did anything about it?

No matter how you look at it, someone still has some serious 'splainin' to do.


Anonymous said...

You're hilarious. First, you get upset about Kahil being detained because he was an innocent Canadian citizen. Then when it turns out he's a terrorist, you get upset that he wasn't detained. You're never happy, are you? What a hypocrite.

CC said...

Dear anon:

Apparently, you missed the point entirely. On the one hand, it's mightily annoying if innocent people are being thoroughly inconvenienced by the U.S. no-fly list.

But on the other hand, it's even more cause for concern if people with (alleged) actual connections with terrorist organizations are being allowed to fly.

If you're a big fan of the no-fly list, you should be absolutely outraged that Kahil was allowed to board a plane and that that plane was allowed to get airborne before anyone was notified.

But are you furious about this? Apparently not. Apparently, you'd rather use this incident to try to score some cheap rhetorical points.

Colour me not surprised.