Thursday, April 24, 2008

Men score victory in legal fight over terror list

Local U.S. citizens stopped at airports repeatedly -- and don't know why

Go to Chicago Sun-Times original
For software exec Akif Rahman of Wheaton and Bridgeview filmmaker Oussama Jammal, international travel carries more than just the usual hassles.

Rahman, who was born in Springfield, and Jammal, a U.S. citizen since 2001, have been stopped separately by U.S. authorities more than a dozen times. In one instance, Rahman says, he was shackled to a chair for three hours at the Detroit-Windsor crossing while his wife and two children were kept in another room.

They're not terrorists, they say. But something is causing them to be flagged as such.

The two -- and six other U.S. citizens with Middle Eastern or south Asian ancestry who have been repeatedly stopped -- are hoping their ordeal may be coming to an end following a recent federal court ruling here.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to say whether Rahman, Jammal and the other plaintiffs are on the Terrorist Screening Database watchlist -- a disclosure authorities have argued could compromise national security. The judge will also look at FBI files and decide whether Rahman, Jammal and the others may see them.

Federal authorities have asked for an extension and the case may, through appeals, continue to wind its way through the courts for some time. But the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiffs, is declaring the judge's ruling a blow against what the group sees as the Bush administration's abuse of its "state secrets" privilege.


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