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State Department Denied Visa for Doctor to Attend Her Own Trial Challenging ‘No Fly’ List—Twice

Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim

A significant challenge to the constitutionality of the Department of Homeland Security’s “No Fly” list has been ongoing in San Francisco, California, in a trial before a district court judge this week.

The lawsuit alleges Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim, a Malaysian who twice obtained a visa from the United States to study and obtain degrees in architecture, including a Ph. D, had her due process rights violated when she was “falsely imprisoned in an airport, denied boarding on two flights and subjected to enhanced searches before flying.” It also alleges the violation of her rights “impeded” her “professional advancement and prevented her from accepting work or promoting her inventions in the United States despite having a Ph. D. from Stanford.”

Lawyers for Ibrahim further allege that she was “subjected to intentional discriminatory treatment based upon her membership in a suspect class and her free exercise of her religious faith,” because she is a Muslim. They also contend the FBI questioned her about a terrorist organization in Malaysia of which she did not know anything about, asked about her husband’s “ideology,” her involvement in the local Muslim community and religious travel to Saudi Arabia, all a violation of her First Amendment rights.

Dr. Ibrahim has not been in attendance at this trial. Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant for the Identity Project, which advises, assists, publicizes and provides legal defense for those who have their rights infringed upon by demands for identification, has been attending the trial and reported that the State Department would not let her be present on “terrorism grounds.” A witness from the State Department would not elaborate in open court.

Her oldest daughter, Raihan Mustafa Kamal, was not allowed to board a flight on Sunday, December 1, to San Francisco to testify as a witness in the trial. It would seem that someone in government placed Dr. Ibrahim’s daughter on a “No Fly” list so she could not give testimony in the case.

Judge William Alsup demanded an explanation from lawyers representing DHS and other federal agencies, which are defendants in the lawsuit. The Identity Project reported that Alsup said, “We may have to have a separate evidentiary hearing about this,” Judge Alsup said. “I want to know whether the government did something to obstruct a witness, a US citizen.” (A director for the Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center is now scheduled to testify on Friday, December 5, on what happened to Dr. Ibrahim’s daughter on Sunday.)

Additionally, today the judge denied a government motion to dismiss the case after Dr. Ibrahim’s lawyers rested. Closing arguments will take place after testimony from the CBP National Targeting Center director.

The trial has received virtually no coverage in US media except for local news organizations like the San Francisco Chronicle, which has posted a report on the trial. And Papers, Please!, a blog of The Identity Project has been doing remarkable coverage.

American citizens are probably unfamiliar with what happened to Dr. Ibrahim and have no idea that Dr. Ibrahim’s case against DHS’s “No Fly” list policies, which grant those included on the list no due process to challenge being put on the list, has been before a judge.

On January 2, 2005, Dr. Ibrahim was scheduled to be on board a flight from San Francisco to Kona, Hawaii. San Francisco police claimed she had “overstayed her visa,” according to a filed trial brief. Immigration documents showed this was not correct. Still, police led her away in handcuffs in front of her daughter, Rafeah, and about 50 others who were in line at a United Airlines counter.

Dr. Ibrahim was “publicly humiliated” and then “imprisoned for approximately two hours, searched in a culturally insensitive manner, denied her medication until the paramedics were called and denied the ability to use the restroom in private. She wanted to speak with FBI agent Kevin Kelley, who had interviewed her in 2004, so she could clear her name but this request was denied. Eventually, she was released with no explanation.

The trial brief further recounts:

CommunityThe Dissenter

State Department Denied Visa for Doctor to Attend Her Own Trial Challenging ‘No Fly’ List—Twice

Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim

A significant challenge to the constitutionality of the Department of Homeland Security’s “No Fly” list has been ongoing in San Francisco, California, in a trial before a district court judge this week.

The lawsuit alleges Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim, a Malaysian who twice obtained a visa from the United States to study and obtain degrees in architecture, including a Ph. D, had her due process rights violated when she was “falsely imprisoned in an airport, denied boarding on two flights and subjected to enhanced searches before flying.” It also alleges the violation of her rights “impeded” her “professional advancement and prevented her from accepting work or promoting her inventions in the United States despite having a Ph. D. from Stanford.”

Lawyers for Ibrahim further allege that she was “subjected to intentional discriminatory treatment based upon her membership in a suspect class and her free exercise of her religious faith,” because she is a Muslim. They also contend the FBI questioned her about a terrorist organization in Malaysia of which she did not know anything about, asked about her husband’s “ideology,” her involvement in the local Muslim community and religious travel to Saudi Arabia, all a violation of her First Amendment rights.

Dr. Ibrahim has not been in attendance at this trial. Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant for the Identity Project, which advises, assists, publicizes and provides legal defense for those who have their rights infringed upon by demands for identification, has been attending the trial and reported that the State Department would not let her be present on “terrorism grounds.” A witness from the State Department would not elaborate in open court.

Her oldest daughter, Raihan Mustafa Kamal, was not allowed to board a flight on Sunday, December 1, to San Francisco to testify as a witness in the trial. It would seem that someone in government placed Dr. Ibrahim’s daughter on a “No Fly” list so she could not give testimony in the case.

Judge William Alsup demanded an explanation from lawyers representing DHS and other federal agencies, which are defendants in the lawsuit. The Identity Project reported that Alsup said, “We may have to have a separate evidentiary hearing about this,” Judge Alsup said. “I want to know whether the government did something to obstruct a witness, a US citizen.” (A director for the Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center is now scheduled to testify on Friday, December 5, on what happened to Dr. Ibrahim’s daughter on Sunday.)

Additionally, today the judge denied a government motion to dismiss the case after Dr. Ibrahim’s lawyers rested. Closing arguments will take place after testimony from the CBP National Targeting Center director.

The trial has received virtually no coverage in US media except for local news organizations like the San Francisco Chronicle, which has posted a report on the trial. And Papers, Please!, a blog of The Identity Project has been doing remarkable coverage.

American citizens are probably unfamiliar with what happened to Dr. Ibrahim and have no idea that Dr. Ibrahim’s case against DHS’s “No Fly” list policies, which grant those included on the list no due process to challenge being put on the list, has been before a judge.

On January 2, 2005, Dr. Ibrahim was scheduled to be on board a flight from San Francisco to Kona, Hawaii. San Francisco police claimed she had “overstayed her visa,” according to a filed trial brief. Immigration documents showed this was not correct. Still, police led her away in handcuffs in front of her daughter, Rafeah, and about 50 others who were in line at a United Airlines counter.

Dr. Ibrahim was “publicly humiliated” and then “imprisoned for approximately two hours, searched in a culturally insensitive manner, denied her medication until the paramedics were called and denied the ability to use the restroom in private. She wanted to speak with FBI agent Kevin Kelley, who had interviewed her in 2004, so she could clear her name but this request was denied. Eventually, she was released with no explanation. (more…)

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."