On Friday a federal judge questioned the legality of the “no-fly list” implemented by the government and said people on the list should be afforded a chance to clear their name.
The lawsuit was filed by Alexandria resident Gulet Mohamed in and has meandered through the courts systems for four years amid protests from the government. U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga “aggressively questioned the government” and proposed that the government plead its case to a magistrate before placing an individual on the no-fly list, according to Tribune Wire reports.
Mohamed originally lodged his complaint in 2011 after he was denied a flight back to the United States from Kuwait. He alleged that he was beaten under orders of U.S. officials during interrogations about his travels throughout the Middle East. Mohamed maintains he visited Somalia and Yemen to see relatives and learn Arabic.
“Any limitations on the government’s authority to place innocent Americans on watch lists will only come from the judiciary, ” wrote Mohamed’s attorney Gadeir Abbas in his legal briefs.
U.S. attorney Joseph Folio argued that the government could not properly defend itself in court without disclosing state secrets, which Folio maintained was grounds for dismissal. He also said that Attorney General Eric Holder himself ordered him to use the state secret privilege. According to Tribune ire reports, Judge Trenga said he will issue a ruling at some point in the future.
In an intriguing twist, the news comes one day after the FBI placed Mohamed’s older brother, Liban, on their “Most Wanted” list. Liban was a taxi driver living in Alexandria who left in 2012 to go to east Africa. The FBI believes Liban has provided information to the terrorist organizations al-Qaeda and Al Shabab and is an integral asset due to his knowledge of the metropolitan area.
“It is important for us to locate Mohamed because he has knowledge of the Washington, D.C., area’s infrastructure such as shopping areas, Metro, airports, and government buildings,” said Carl Ghattas, special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division at the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “This makes him an asset to his terrorist associates who might plot attacks on U.S. soil.”
However, Abbas says the claims are baseless and counterintuitive. “Al-Shabab has killed Liban’s uncle and imprisoned his cousins,” said Abbas. “His family believes the allegations have no basis in fact.”