Vive Le Canada

Mississauga man detained
Date: Sunday, January 08 2006
Topic:


Mississauga man detained
Father's name on U.S. no-fly list
Fighter jets follow Air Transat flight
Jan. 7, 2006. 01:33 PM
MICHELLE SHEPHARD
IN TORONTO
TIM HARPER
IN WASHINGTON

U.S. fighter jets shadowed an Air Transat flight from Toronto to Mexico this week, following a passenger from Mississauga who was eventually detained upon landing and forced to spend a night in a Mexican jail because his name appears on an American no-fly list.

Mexican authorities pulled Sami Kahil, a Canadian citizen, off an Air Transat flight on Thursday after denying him entry to Ixtapa, Mexico. He was travelling for an all-inclusive vacation to Ixtapa with his wife and two young children.

Masri said officials with Canada's foreign affairs department told her last night that two RCMP officers would accompany Kahil, 38, home on a private Air Transat flight, which was scheduled to arrive back in Toronto at 2:30 this morning.

What's not clear is why a passenger list was given by the airline to American authorities, since U.S. legislation enacted after 9/11 requires airlines to provide passenger lists only if a flight is destined for the U.S.

The U.S. "no-fly list" has been frequently criticized for cases of mistaken identity. Innocent passengers have been snared because of similarities to names on the list or because names have been misspelled. Among those who have been barred in the United States are veteran Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, and the son of Canadian Senator Colin Kenny, who has chaired the Canadian Senate's security committee.

"The name Sami Kahil is like saying Joe Blow or John Smith. They've got the wrong guy," his exasperated wife said.

But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said yesterday there was no question that Kahil's name should have appeared on the list. "This is an excellent example of the information sharing that we need with good allies," said spokesperson Brian Doyle.

"I can assure you that if your name is on a U.S. no-fly list, it is not put there in any willy-nilly fashion. This is not a case of mistaken identity."

Masri said her husband, a shoe store owner, had travelled to the U.S. without incident many times since the U.S. expanded its watch list after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Born in Lebanon, Kahil has lived in Canada for more than 20 years and travels on his Canadian passport.

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[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 9, 2006]

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