Lawsuit alleges FBI misused no-fly list to recruit would-be Muslim informants

BY Ellen Rolfes  April 23, 2014 at 11:21 AM EDT

Four Muslim men who are U.S. residents have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, alleging that their rights were violated because they refused to spy on their local Muslim communities. They claim that the FBI put them on the no-fly list as intimidation for declining to become FBI informants.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday night at the U.S. district court of the southern district of New York. It accuses Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI director James Comey, homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson and two dozen FBI agents of creating an atmosphere that encouraged using the no-fly list as leverage for recruiting informants.

“This impermissible abuse of the No Fly List has forced Plaintiffs to choose between their constitutionally-protected right to travel, on the one hand, and their First Amendment rights on the other,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit seeks to have the plaintiffs, Jameel Algibhah, Naveed Shinwari, Awais Sajjad and Muhammad Tanvir, removed from the list and to create more legal protections for individuals who desire to contest placement on the list.

The FBI had yet to comment as of Tuesday, as is their policy for pending legislation.

The no-fly list is managed by the Terrorist Security Administration. The AP reported in February 2012 that it had grown to 21,000 people, including about 500 Americans. If on the list, named persons cannot gain passage on ships or obtain boarding passes for domestic and international travel. Only one person has ever successfully removed her name from the list. A Malaysian architect Rahinah Ibrahim’s efforts succeeded in March after she convinced officials that she was added to the list because of an error.