Sami Kahil, 38, a Canadian shoe store owner denied entry to Mexico Jan. 5 because his name appears on the U.S. no-fly list.
Few American media have covered the incident, in spite of the fact that the U.S. was concerned enough about Kahil's presence on a plane to scramble fighter jets to escort it across the country.
Kahil has become a cause célèbre in Canada, doing television interviews, hiring attorneys and soliciting the help of Amnesty International to clear his name.
Asked by several reporters why he might have been placed on the no-fly list, Kahil neglected to reveal something the Toronto Star reported today: He was associated with the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon 17 years ago, according to his 1991 application for refugee status in Canada:
While living with his parents in Basta, West Beirut, when he was in his early 20s, Kahil claimed Hezbollah (Party of God) -- a pro-Iranian terrorist organization with global links -- came to his home and coerced him at gunpoint to work for the group.
According to court documents, Kahil said he worked for the group without pay, in a non-combat role, filling sandbags and transporting ammunition.
In January 1989 he was hit by bomb shrapnel. Six days after Hezbollah members took him to hospital, according to the court papers, Kahil fled to the mountain village of Aramoun outside Beirut and sheltered there with a friend until he was accused of spying for Hezbollah by another Lebanese faction, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP).
Whether his association with Hezbollah was voluntary or coerced, court documents linking Kahil to the group seem like a rock-solid reason to exclude him from U.S. airspace.
Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., U.K., Canada and other Western countries, is suspected of several terror attacks and kidnappings in Lebanon, including the 1983 bombing that killed 241 U.S. soldiers in Beirut.
This new detail puts Department of Homeland Security comments about Kahil in a new light. "I can assure you that if your name is on a U.S. no-fly list, it is not put there in any willy-nilly fashion," spokesperson Brian Doyle told the Star immediately after the incident. "This is not a case of mistaken identity."
"I can assure you that if your name is on a U.S. no-fly list, it is not put there in any willy-nilly fashion'
Now that's just straight-up horse shit.
Sure. You fill sandbags at gunpoint: you're a terrorist. The world has a lot of Nazi sympathizers who stayed behind after the start of World War II and helped out in much the same way. Many more got "shot down" so they could stay in POW camps and help out too.
Bah! One day I'll be up for war crimes. I worked for a company and that did the website for a company that supplied parts to a supplier of Haliburton.
By the same token as the Kahil flying ban: George W. should have been barred from public service because was a cokehead and an alcoholic.
You fill sandbags at gunpoint: you're a terrorist.
According to the story, he also transported ammunition and was involved in some kind of incident where he was injured by bomb shrapnel. He also was put back to work by Hezbollah several times upon a return to Lebanon.
If he was coerced into joining and rejoining, how can you conclude that he's not susceptible to such coercion again?
There are a lot of times I've read about no-fly list horror stories and thought it was a terrible government program without sufficient oversight. But keeping a past member of Hezbollah from flying is not one of those times.
Well, I suppose my previous comment was somewhat premature, although there still have been mistakes of that nature.
I am all for erasing national boundaries to bring criminals to justice. Too often does North America become a refuge for criminals from overseas who live in quiet anonymity here.
Was he a part of a terrorist organization there? It looks like he was.
Had he broken a law or done something here in North America? It looks like he didn't. If that's the case, why is he being led off of an airplane? If he has done something, why is he free?
What I have an issue with is that the jet was taking a plane full of passengers from one country to another and it was not setting down on US soil. The passenger list was forwarded to the US. They scrambled the planes and did what they did.What would the reaction be if a US passenger jet was forced down by foreign fighter jets and a passenger was led off? The US opted out of the UN War Crimes Legislation because of all of the incidents from the last fifty years (Vietnam, Cambodia, Panama, Grenada, Afganistan, Iraq, etc.) where US soldiers, commanding officers and the Administration likely committed war crimes. If the US wants to act worldwide snatching shoe salesmen off of Canadian planes, killing Canadian soldiers and bombing Pakistani villagers, it either has to be a two way street; or Americans have to live with the idea they are unfair and are going to be treated like thugs. The two way street is America having expectation of other nations (give up terror suspects, share intelligence and aid in the War on Terror) and vice versa (land mine ban, Kyoto Accord, War Crimes).