In what could be another embarrassing episode involving the government’s “no-fly” list in the era of terrorism, a 31-year-old Illinois man who happens to be a Muslim says the FBI offered to remove him from the list provided that he do undercover work at mosques, the Associated Press is reporting.
At first glance, Abe Mashal of St. Charles might seem to be ripe for the no-fly list, and perhaps a good candidate to work under cover for the FBI. After all, as Allen Lengel reports on his Tickle the Wire blog, Mashal did exchange e-mails with a Muslim cleric who had caught the interest of the FBI for one reason or another.
But on second and third glance, Mashal would seem to be a less than ideal candidate, either for the no-fly list or to go spying at mosques. The e-mails he exchanged with the cleric were apparently about how to raise children in an inter-faith family. (Mashal’s wife is Christian.)
Mashal does not fall into the stereotype that Muslims almost reflexively hates dogs. In fact, he trains them for a living. Then there’s the matter of Mashal’s military service. He says he was honorably discharged from the Marines and that he is a patriotic American. “I feel like I’m living in communist Russia, not the United States of America, for someone to jump into my life like that,” he told the AP.
So far, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have declined comment. At least Mashal, one of several plaintiffs in a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union over the secret list, can console himself with the knowledge that his name is not the only improbable one to make the no-fly list. Back in 2004, a distinguished-looking New Englander was questioned at several East Coast airports before his name was removed. He was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)