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Trapped On A Terror-Watch List


Aired 4/11/11

Terror watch lists used at the border, or at airports, have proliferated since the attacks of Sept. 11th, 2001. Sometimes people without criminal backgrounds end up on these lists; for some, it's not easy to get off of them.

Shuaib Azizi is an American citizen born in Afghanistan. In an effort to find...
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Above: Shuaib Azizi is an American citizen born in Afghanistan. In an effort to find out why he faces harassment at airports and at the border, he filed a Freedom of Information request. Here, he shows his government file.

— Shuaib Azizi is an American citizen born in Afghanistan. He's a successful real-estate broker who often travels abroad, or across the border into Mexico to show properties in Baja California.

Four years ago, he was stopped at the U.S. border and detained for hours without explanation. The problem persisted, so he wrote many letters of complaint.

"I sent it to California Congressman Duncan Hunter, Congressman Brian Bilbray, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Diane Feinstein, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff, George W. Bush, the director of the Border Patrol," said Azizi. "Everywhere that I sent this letter, I got no explanation on what would be the solution to this."

Despite the numerous complaints, he said neither state representatives nor the Department of Homeland Security have done anything to get him off the terror-watch list.

"Someone has to make an effort -- whether it's technical glitch, whatever it is -- they need to make an effort," said Azizi, browsing through his pile of his documents and letters. "Just remove it, or delete it, or whatever, because it's just not right."

Now the American Civil Liberties Union is looking into Azizi's case. He said he's not interested in a lawsuit, but in getting some answers and preventing this from happening to others.

Calls to the Homeland Security Department, and the Terrorist Screening Center of the FBI went unanswered.

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Avatar for user 'johnnym'

johnnym | April 8, 2011 at 11:16 p.m. ― 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm also on the list. I was born in the U.S. of Irish descent. When I show my passport at the airport they say "oh, there's a problem" and go into some back room with it, sometimes for hours. They won't say why.

I have never said anything about it since I understand security has to be tougher since the Muslim attacks. But it's frankly annoying to have this guy from Afghanistan complaining about security. Everybody (not just Muslims) puts up with a lot of inconvenience to say nothing of the expense of the TSA. How come the people who caused the problem in the first place are doing all the complaining?

As for being "trapped" on a terror watch list - what about the people who were "trapped" on the hundredth floor of the World Trade Center and had to jump? They're not complaining a loudly as Mr. Azizi.

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