ORLANDO (CN) - The Department of Homeland Security has been hounding, detaining and interrogating a U.S. citizen for years because he is Muslim, the man claims in Federal Court.
Sadique Jaffer, a 52-year-old native of Zanzibar, became a U.S. citizen in 1984, he says in his complaint.
Jaffer, a Shia Muslim, says he "has never endorsed, espoused or otherwise encouraged any activity directed at or damaging to the United States. To the contrary, he has sought to use his influence within his local Shia Muslim community to prevent the accommodation of those who seek to use their faith as a political force."
The complaint continues: "It was in this regard that plaintiff and his family, when offering to provide a community facility for Shia Muslims in the Orlando area, sought stipulations from the community that the facilities would never be used as a location for fostering religious-based politicization and insisted on maintaining control of the facilities to ensure that this would never occur.
"For his actions, plaintiff was roundly and wrongfully criticized by members of the Orlando Shia Muslim community, both verbally and in writing."
The spat led him to file a defamation complaint "against certain members of the local Shia Muslim community board" in Seminole County, Orlando, in 2007, Jaffer says.
That attracted the attention of the FBI.
Jaffer says the FBI contacted his attorney and told him that Jaffer "was not a person of interest to the FBI, but asked to be advised if plaintiff was made aware of any potential threats that might emanate from the Orlando Shia community."
The complaint continues: "Plaintiff through his counsel agreed to cooperate with the FBI should he learn of any threats against the United States."
Nonetheless, he says, at about this time, FBI Agent John McCormack, in New York, "being provided with a copy of plaintiff's lawsuit, nominated plaintiff to the federal watch list for reasons unknown to the plaintiff ..."
Since then, Jaffer says, he has been detained and interrogated repeatedly at airports - virtually every time he flies. Jaffer works in computer sales and service and has to fly frequently.
According to his complaint, he was detained, interrogated and "verbally abused" for 4 hours in Houston on Aug. 13, 2007; taken off a plane at JFK airport and questioned on Nov. 20, 2007; detained and searched for 3 hours when returning from Canada by care on Nov. 24, 2007; detained for 1½ hours on Jan. 9, 2008, at Atlanta airport; detained at JFK again on Feb. 2, March 3, May 3, June 8, and July 22, 2008; and on and on and on.
He says he attorney has written at least seven letters of protest to ICE officials, concerning his repeated, unwarranted detentions, to no avail.
The lawsuit says, in effect, that the federal government's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, is a sham and a farce.
He seeks declaratory judgment that the DHS is violating his constitutional rights, and wants it enjoined from doing it any more, "absent a showing, in camera if necessary, that the plaintiff constitutes a threat to the security of the United States."
Jaffer is represented by Christy Wilson of Orlando.
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