In the latest episode of the FBI’s despicable war on American Muslims Kevin Iraniha, a graduate student who had completed his studies in Costa Rica and was attempting to fly home to Southern California found himself stranded, unable to fly because he had been placed on the “no-fly” list. A visit to the U.S. embassy in Costra Rica resulted in hours of interrogation by the FBI in an attempt to force him to become an FBI informer.
This is becoming an all-to-familiar tactic on the part of the FBI. Muslims involved in humanitarian aide and peace activism are allowed to leave country. While they are overseas, they are placed on the “no-fly” list for no apparent reason and entirely without due process. When it’s to come come, they find themselves stranded thousands of mile from home and forced to endure hours of abusive interrogation. Eventually, there are able to return home with considerable difficulty and enormous inconvenience.
Huffington Post: U.S. Citizen Put on No-Fly List to Pressure Him Into Becoming FBI Informant (7 June 2012)
It didn’t seem terribly strange to Kevin Iraniha when an FBI agent showed up at his door in August 2011 just after he returned from a whirlwind trip through India, Egypt and Iran.
The 27-year-old Iranian American says the agent was “very friendly” and just kept repeating that, “You have been to a lot more places than we have and our job is to build relationships so if you see anything out of the ordinary and since you’re involved in certain things that we’re not involved in, and have expertise in, feel free to come to us without hesitation.” He even met with the FBI agent once more after that.
It didn’t strike him as being a problem until this week.
Iraniha, a U.S. citizen, born in the naval hospital in San Diego, California where his mother works in the Navy (she’s an American born in Michigan) was bred in San Diego and is a known pro-Palestinian and anti-war activist. He just graduated with a masters degree in International Law with a focus on the peaceful settlement of disputes from the United Nations-accredited University for Peace in Costa Rica and was boarding a flight home to San Diego on Frontier Airlines this Tuesday, June 5, with his two brothers and father when he was informed that he is on a no-fly list.
“That was pretty shocking,” he said, speaking from an internet cafe in Mexico City today.
His two brothers went ahead but he and his Iranian-born, U.S. citizen father were left behind. They headed to the U.S. embassy in Costa Rica to find out why and what could be done. Iraniha and his father endured 6 hours of interrogations. For two straight hours, Iraniha alone was asked “all sorts of ridiculous questions” by an FBI agent and a State Department official about a range of topics, most of which pertained to him being Muslim, having traveled to Muslim countries and his political views, primarily to do with activism for “Muslim” issues, such as Palestine and U.S. foreign policy.
The FBI agent then asked him a question that struck Iraniha as “completely shocking” and “really ridiculous”.
He started out the question just saying “I don’t even know why I’m asking you this”, mentioned that it was “just routine” and then proceeded to ask Iraniha whether he had ever wanted “to cause damage to a Jewish center in San Diego or a U.S. official building.”
Iraniha says he had no idea what they were talking about. “I had never even been to a Jewish center in San Diego to even know where one’s at,” he says.
After that, the questioning was over. Iraniha’s father was told he was on the no-fly list because he bought his son’s plane ticket. Iraniha himself was told “you’re an American citizen, so you have the right to go into America, you just can’t fly into America, so if you want you can take a boat or you can go by land — drive into America.”
The officials at the U.S. embassy didn’t give Iraniha any reason why he was on the no-fly list — “They didn’t even seem to know themselves,” Iraniha says — but one person did. When he called the FBI agent who’d visited him in San Diego twice, he told Iraniha that he was already aware that Iraniha is on the no-fly list and that, “He knows why but can’t tell me over the phone.”
“He said he just wants to get me back to San Diego and then he’ll straighten this out,” Iraniha said of the FBI agent.
After putting in a call to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Iraniha learned that what happened to him could in fact be an oft-used FBI tactic employed to encourage Muslim Americans to become informants against their community, by, well, intimidation.
“They put you on a no-fly list and then to get off of it they say, oh, we want you to be an informant,” Iraniha says.
CBS Local Los Angeles: SDSU Student Back Home After Detour Over ‘No-Fly’ List Status (8 June 2012)
A Southern California-born Muslim man was back home on Friday after he discovered he was on the U.S. government’s “no-fly” list and had to walk back over the border on foot.
KNX 1070?s Tom Reopelle reports Kevin Iraniha had just received his masters’ degree from a college in Costa Rica.
San Diego State University graduate Iraniha, 27, was preparing to return to his home in Point Loma when TSA officials informed him of his “no-fly” status.
His brother Johan said the family was not provided any details on Kevin’s flight status.
“Basically, he was told he could not fly,” he said. “They didn’t give him any information, they said to go to the U.S. Embassy.”
Officials from the U.S. Embassy then told Iraniha that in order to get back home, he would have to fly into Tijuana and then walk across the border on foot.
Iraniha’s brother Johan was furious that his brother was subjected to such treatment.
“I definitely am angry, I’m very upset about it and I want to do as much as I can but I also wanna make sure that he’s here so we can definitely tackle the situation together, so I could see how he feels, how he was treated,” said Johan.
A family member did confirm to a San Diego-area station that Iraniha had traveled to Egypt during the uprising that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak last year, but denied he was “the revolutionary type”.
MSNBC: California grad student on no-fly list gets home after stranding (8 June 2012)
An American student who discovered he was included on the government’s no-fly list and was barred from a U.S.-bound flight from Costa Rica was reunited with family and friends after he flew to Mexico and then walked across the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday evening.
Kevin Iraniha, 27, was met at the San Ysidro crossing south of his home in San Diego by his father and two brothers as well as some supporters and reporters after a two-day delay that included FBI questioning and rerouting his trip through Mexico City and Tijuana.
“I’m happy to be home, finally in my hometown where I was born and raised,” Iraniha told NBC San Diego, but he added that what happened to him ”was very tiring and very depressing.”
“Obviously he was relieved to see his family, to be back in San Diego, home. It was quite an emotional moment to see him for his family for his friends,” said Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, a nonprofit civil rights group.
Iraniha had recently completed a master’s degree program in Costa Rica. He had celebrated his graduation with his father and brothers, but was stopped on Tuesday when he tried to check in for his flight.
Iraniha is a practicing Muslim whose father was born in Iran. He said he was questioned extensively by FBI agents at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose about his religious beliefs, practices and affiliations, and about his recent travels to destinations including Iran, where he has relatives.
Iraniha’s brothers and father all were allowed to board aircraft flying directly to the United States.