WASHINGTON “” The singer formerly known as Cat Stevens is forbidden from flying into the United States because of his alleged association with possible terrorists, U.S. officials said Wednesday in explaining why a London-to-Washington flight carrying the peace activist was diverted….
Meantime, there was confusion about how someone on the government’s “no-fly list” was allowed to board a plane. Airline personnel are supposed to check passengers’ names against people on the list. Anyone who matches is to be kept off flights.
United spokesman Jeff Green said the airline followed procedures in checking Islam’s name, and it wasn’t on the list.
“The information did not match,” Green said.
Green and Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy said the airline and the government are working together to figure out what happened. It’s possible Islam’s name was spelled differently on the list, Homeland Security officials conceded.
Under rules imposed following the Sept. 11 attacks, once an international flight is bound for the United States, passenger information is forwarded to U.S. officials. The amount of data varies, but can include name, address, flight details, seat location, form of payment and meal preference.
U.S. authorities use the information to run a more thorough check against government watch lists. That’s when authorities discovered that Islam was on the plane….
U.S. authorities provided few details about Islam’s alleged connection to terrorism.
Homeland Security spokesman Brian Doyle would only say that the intelligence community has recently obtained information that “further heightens concern” about Islam.
“Yusuf Islam has been placed on the watch lists because of activities that could potentially be related to terrorism,” Doyle said. “It’s a serious matter.”
A second government official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. authorities think donations from Islam may have ended up helping to fund blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, convicted for a plot to bomb New York City landmarks, and Hamas, a Palestinian militant group considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
In July 2000, Islam was deported hours after arriving in Jerusalem. A local paper reported then that the government claimed he had delivered tens of thousands of dollars to Hamas during a visit in 1988. Islam denied ever knowingly supporting Islamic terrorists.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations at a news conference Wednesday said the deportation “sends a message to the Islamic world that even those who seek peace and condemn terror are not fit to enter the United States.”
But of course CAIR said nothing about why he was barred from Israel, or whether he really supported Hamas and Omar Abdel Rahman, etc.