Why do people get placed on our government's no-fly list? It's a secret. Ostensibly it has something to do with terrorism and public safety, but the government will not answer any questions about it. The process is completely opaque. The four plaintiffs in the suit all have different stories, but the gist is that 1) They did not deserve to be on the no-fly list, and 2) The FBI tried to use their inclusion on the no-fly list as a blunt tool to recruit them to be spies on the Muslim community. Here, for example, the story of Naveed Shinwari, born in Afghanistan but living in Nebraska, who was repeatedly hassled and visited by FBI agents after trying to fly home after being married in Afghanistan. From The Guardian:
The following month, after Shinwari bought another plane ticket for a temporary job in Connecticut, he couldn't get a boarding pass. Police told him he had been placed on the US no-fly list, although he had never in his life been accused of breaking any law. Another FBI visit soon followed, with agents wanting to know about the "local Omaha community, did I know anyone who's a threat", he says.
"I'm just very frustrated, [and I said] what can I do to clear my name?" recalls Shinwari, 30. "And that's where it was mentioned to me: you help us, we help you. We know you don't have a job; we'll give you money."
Sometimes it seems as if the FBI's clumsy attempts to use unjust laws and regulations to bludgeon Muslim people into becoming informers is a sign that the FBI does not have a strong relationship with the American Muslim community. But that seems impossible, since the FBI is only trying to protect us all. The full lawsuit is here.