A California teenager suspected of attending a terrorist training camp and his father are being denied re-entry to the United States after spending four years in Pakistan unless they submit to interviews and lie-detector tests, their attorney says.
Julia Mass says the rights of her clients, Muhammad Ismail, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, and his 18-year-old son, Jaber Ismail, to return to the United States are being violated because they are on the “no fly” list.
Miss Mass said an official at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad told Jaber Ismail that he and his father would be allowed to return only if he submitted to a lie-detector test. Airlines have refused to sell the Ismails tickets without “clearance” from the embassy.
“The government cannot hold U.S. citizens hostage in Pakistan in an effort to get them to waive one of their fundamental rights: the right to silence,” said Miss Mass, who works for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
McGregor Scott, the U.S. attorney for California’s Eastern District, said last week that the Ismails are on a terrorist watch list and would not be allowed to fly home until they agreed to talk with federal authorities.
“They’ve been given the opportunity to meet with the FBI over there and answer a few questions, and they’ve declined to do that,” Mr. Scott told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Ismails are the uncle and cousin of Hamid Hayat, an agricultural laborer from Lodi, Calif., convicted earlier this year of supporting terrorism. Hayat attended a military-style training camp in Pakistan run by Islamic extremists linked to al Qaeda.
Jaber Ismail, who has not been charged with a crime, is one of several young men from Lodi suspected of having attended terrorist training camps. He refused to undergo the polygraph.
Miss Mass has lodged a complaint with the civil rights office at the Department of Homeland Security, and filed for redress with the Transportation Security Administration, which administers the U.S. “no -fly” list.
Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection told UPI that citizens returning might be detained if questions arise about their identity or handed over to federal law-enforcement authorities if they are wanted, but there is no legal basis for denying a U.S. citizen entry to the country.
Terror-training camps run by a shifting constellation of groups committed to jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan are virtually indistinguishable from al Qaeda. British authorities, for instance, think that two of the four suicide bombers on trains and buses in London on July 7, 2005, had met with al Qaeda militants and received bomb-making training at camps in Pakistan.
In a videotaped interview with the FBI in June last year, Hayat told agents that Jaber Ismail was one of several young Lodi residents of Pakistani origin who had attended such camps.
Under the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership for North America, the governments of the United States, Mexico and Canada pledged last year to integrate their terrorism and aviation security watch lists.
“It’s not even clear that they would be allowed to fly to Canada” so that they could present themselves at the land border, Miss Mass said.