By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — A Dearborn resident announced last week that he had filed a lawsuit due to his inclusion on the Terrorist Screening Center’s No-Fly List.
In a press conference at the Arab American Civil Rights offices at 4917 Schaefer, Saeb Mokdad and his attorney, Nahib Ayad, announced the lawsuit which is directed at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., FBI Director Robert Mueller and TSC Director Timothy Healy.
Mokdad said he is a promoter of international and world-renowned superstars and performing acts from the Middle East. He has been living in the country since 1986 and became a U.S. citizen around 1991.
Ayad said that Mokdad became aware of his inclusion in the No-Fly List in September when traveling back to the United States after visiting Lebanon. He was stopped in Paris and not allowed to board a flight coming to the United States. The matter was resolved soon after and he was allowed to return to Dearborn.
An attempt by Mokdad on May 1 to fly to Lebanon was denied. He said the reason for his inclusion on the No-Fly List was not disclosed to him.
Ayad said Mokdad has been denied entry onto flights numerous times since September. In the May 1 instance he was attempting to fly to Lebanon to take part in court proceedings in a case where he is a plaintiff in Beirut. The hearing for it was held on May 8 but he missed it due to his inability to fly.
According to published reports, Mokdad was interviewed by the FBI on April 26 for several hours regarding the kidnapping on roughly 40 Syrians. The kidnapping was believed to be in response to an earlier kidnapping of Hassan al-Mokdad, a relative of his.
Mokdad said the FBI has not told him that that was the reason he is not allowed to fly. He said that the matter has been investigated both in Lebanon and in the United States, but that he was cleared of having any involvement with it.
“I have nothing to do with that,” Mokdad said. “If I did, I’d be in jail like the others.”
Ayad agreed and said that the impression he had received from members of the FBI and government that he had spoken with was that Mokdad was not placed on the list because of the kidnapping incident.
Ayad said the suit was filed in conjunction with Mokdad’s inability to fly to Lebanon to see his family or conduct business, and how that has a detrimental effect on his livelihood. Ayad added that Mokdad’s family also is barred from flying to visit him here in the United States.
Mokdad said he has been trying to complete paperwork with the Lebanese government and immigration to bring his family to Dearborn to get them away from what is going on in Lebanon.
“I’m worried about what’s going on there,” Mokdad said. “But I can’t do anything. I’m stuck.”
Ayad said that the ACRL recently had a similar no-fly case for a paralyzed individual and that cases like Mokdad are not rare.
“We have numerous complaints from Arab Americans who are not being allowed to fly,” Ayad said. “It’s deplorable and embarrassing and it violates any notion of fair play. It violates the Constitution.”
Mokdad said that the inclusion carries a stigma.
“It makes me feel — what happened to me in the airport — like I’m a bad guy,” Mokdad said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])