Local Travelers Encounter Problems with No-Fly List - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/07/04

Local Travelers Encounter Problems with No-Fly List

A plan designed to keep terrorists off of airplanes is now facing a lawsuit. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the government over its no-fly list. The government uses the list as a guide to monitor possible terrorist activity, but the list is causing huge problems for people who have the same or similar names as someone on the list.

This actually causes big problems when it comes time for these people to catch a plane. The people we spoke with said they've had nothing but problems when it comes to getting on airplanes, they often miss their flights and at times, they don't even get compensated for it.

"They always stop me," said Aalid Mohammad, a barber in Hinesville. "They say that I had a name similar to this one guy, they said it was the same name, but it always comes back that it's not the same, the spelling's not the same, the age is not the same."

It's a problem he says that only comes about when ever he has to go through airport security.

The same problem also plagues physician Dr. Masood Ahmed, who says the extra security checks have gotten out of hand. "Everybody should not be looking because of his name," he said. "They have the social security numbers, the driver's license number, so there are many ways to say this Masood Ahmed is not the same Masood Ahmed they're looking for."

But it's not the profiling these men mind, or the searches. They understand its importance--after all, both served in the United Sates Army.

But what bothers them is being searched at the last minute, often causing them to miss flights they don't always get compensated for. "Whenever I have to fly, I have my flight reserved days and weeks before," said Dr. Ahmed. "They should screen me, they know my name before that, not at the last minute when I get to the gate."

With names not favorable to airports' no-fly lists, there's not much they can do at this point, until something gets done to clear their names. "You know if my name was Johnson, I don't think it would be the same," said Mohammad.

At this point, there's no way for the public to know who's on the no-fly list or how to get off it.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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