McAlester native Saddiq Long was once again prevented from boarding a flight from the Middle East to America on Wednesday.
An American Muslim attempting to return to the U.S. was once again prevented from boarding a flight out of the Middle East on Wednesday.
Thursday, Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said McAlester native Saddiq Long tried to board a flight out of Doha, Qatar, and was told by airport officials that they could not give him a boarding pass.
During a phone interview, Long said he was not surprised by the rejection, but he has no idea why he is being prevented from returning to America to visit his terminally ill mother, who lives in McAlester.
“This whole ordeal has been really stressful, especially for my mother,” Long said. “It’s been quite heartbreaking.”
Since 2000, Long, a U.S. Air Force veteran, has been living in the Middle East, where he teaches English.
He first tried to board a flight bound for the U.S. in April, but was turned away by airport officials who told him he needed to get in touch with the U.S. Embassy.
Long said embassy officials told him to contact the Transportation Security Administration to find out why he is being prevented from flying back to America.
Soltani said CAIR officials had encouraged Long to book his recent flight in the hopes that he could return home for the coming holidays.
He said Long has been advised to try to book another flight.
Soltani said the Muslim civil rights group could and may file a lawsuit against the government on Long’s behalf, but leaders first want to try getting the frustrated man home for Thanksgiving.
Both Long and Soltani said they know of no reason Long has been placed on the government’s “no-fly” list.
“If he’s a criminal, why not go and arrest him? He is not a criminal and as someone who has served his country, he deserves the right to return home,” Soltani said.
Long said Wednesday’s thwarted attempt was expected, but it was still a letdown.
He said he had spoken to his mother, who has congestive heart failure, to let her know that he was trying again to fly home.
“I informed her that there might be light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “I’m trying to take it one step at a time. I am a U.S. citizen, born in McAlester and raised there. I’m trying to be patient with it all.” Long said he had hoped to get his mother to Qatar several years ago, but her health deteriorated before she could make the trip.