Claims of Extortionate No-Fly List Head to High Court

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Supreme Court took up a case Friday involving Muslim men who say the FBI put them on a no-fly list because they would not serve as government informants.  

Queens-based Muhammad Tanvir brought the underlying suit with others in 2013, accusing FBI agents of violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by placing them on the no-fly list without an iota of evidence that they posed a threat to aviation safety.

All born abroad, each of the plaintiffs claims to have been approached by the FBI about serving as an informant supplying information about fellow Muslims. When they refused, decisions they attribute at least in part to their religious beliefs, each began running into trouble when attempting airline travel.

The no-fly list was created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are said to be able to nominate any individual for inclusion on the list, which has ten of thousands of names on it.

Among other problems that have plagued the list over the years, some members of Congress have found themselves included by mistake.

Tanvir and his co-plaintiffs all managed to clear their names eventually, but they claim that placement caused tangible damages, prohibiting them for years from seeing wives, children and other family members overseas. Their reputations in their communities also were harmed, they allege.

Though a federal judge dismissed their claims against the individual FBI agents in 2015, the Second Circuit voted to restore the suit last year.

Per its custom the Supreme Court did not issue any comment Friday in taking up the case.

The men are represented by Ramzi Kassem of the City University of New York School of Law. Kassem did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Justice Department also did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case.

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