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We Have Met the Evil Empire, and it is US

When did we stop being the good guys? This is the kind of thing we used to denounce communist dictatorships for doing.

Abe Mashal is a 31-year-old man who lives in a suburb of Chicago. He’s a veteran — an honorably discharged ex-Marine. Married, with kids. Owns his own business. Fairly normal in most respects except for one — he is Muslim. Last time I checked, that is not a crime in America, but you can’t be sure.

Mashal’s wife is Christian, and over a year ago he sent an email to a Muslim cleric asking for advice about raising children in a mixed-religion household. What he didn’t know is that this particular cleric was being monitored by the FBI.

At that point, his previously normal life became complicated, but he didn’t find out about it until he tried to fly to Spokane, WA, for a job. He had been placed on the no-fly list. He was questioned by the FBI, first at the airport, then at his home. His friends and family were questioned. Even though he hadn’t done anything even remotely illegal, the FBI refused to take him off the no-fly list. His business suffered, since he was not allowed to fly.

Now here’s the weird part. Mashal says that agents offered to get him off the no-fly list, but on one condition — that he would become an undercover informant at mosques. He refused, saying “I feel like I’m living in communist Russia, not the United States of America”.

Mashal is now one of 17 plantiffs in a lawsuit filed in June by the ACLU over abuse of the no-fly list.

UPDATE: A Muslim organization says that they have received “dozens” of complaints about people who have been pressured to become informants. Also, there is video of Mashal telling his story here.

UPDATE 2: Mashal himself has made some comments on this post.



  1. Jason Ray wrote:

    This is outrageous. I would scream to my representatives, except:

    1) Both house members that I have any connection to are firmly against this idiocy anyway

    2) With King and the elephants in charge in the House this would not be seen as a problem, let alone a problem needing a solution

    So what do we do? Call/write/demand action directly from Homeland Security and the President? This doesn’t sound like a direct order from the top being carried out, it sounds like trickle-down bureaucracy where some middle managers are interpreting (in a bad way) something they have vague instructions about from their bosses.

    Or – just to make sure even-handedness is applied – maybe the FBI has some information about this man which is not being revealed in the public news stories but would represent a probable cause? I say that to be fair, because we should not over-react until we have all the facts.

    Having said that, given there are already 17 plaintiffs and with the behavior of Pete King and his “Muslim threat” hearings, I think it’s quite likely this story is presenting all the facts and we need to fix the abuse of power it implies.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    I do try to take everything I read in the news with a huge grain of salt. I’ll follow up if I hear anything else about this.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink
  3. Sammy wrote:

    I live in Spokane, WA. I would gladly have Mr. Mashal to my house for dinner.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
  4. Bard wrote:

    my favorite person on the No Fly List is Cat Stevens. He’s one dangerous fellow.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 4:05 am | Permalink
  5. PatriotSGT wrote:

    The same methodolgy also puts 3 year olds on the “no fly” list. I occasionally agree with ACLU actions and this is one of those times. After Mr Mashal has dinner at your house Sammy, tell him he’s welcome at mine if he stops on east coast.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 5:44 am | Permalink
  6. Jeff wrote:

    The no-fly list is the equivalent to McCarthy’s blacklist for Hollywood communists. It’s not that the FBI doesn’t care about evidence, they just cast such a big net that they will inevitably catch people that have done nothing wrong. There was a story about an athlete for some professional team who couldn’t fly with the team because his name was close to that of a known terrorist.

    It’s too bad these kinds of things are defended as being an integral part of our national security. I’d rather that American citizens be respected and left alone than labeled as enemies of the state.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink
  7. starluna wrote:

    Ted Kennedy was on the no-fly list for a time as well. Cat Stevens wasn’t just on the no-fly list. He was actually barred from entering the country.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink
  8. Abe M wrote:

    I appreciate the kind thoughts guys. And if I am able to fly in the future I will be sure to get my free dinner! I hope between me being all over the Chicago news and radio the last few days and the lawsuit this will all be finished soon enough.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    Abe, welcome! Having worked in the media in the past, I know to take what they say with a pretty large grain of salt. If any of the information in this report is inaccurate, I’d love to hear about it.

    And best of luck with the lawsuit.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  10. Abe M: If you swing through Grand Rapids, I can at least spot you a beer. 😉

    And enjoy the comment carnival while you’re here: it’s quiet a ride!

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  11. Abe M wrote:

    a few news links…

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  12. PatriotSGT wrote:

    @ ABE M – from the Army to a Marine – Semper Fi and Thank You for your service!

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  13. Abe M wrote:

    Iron Knee,

    A few things that the media has failed to mention is that after I contacted the ACLU, we offered the FBI on several occasions to sit down and get me cleared. They refused to meet with me unless it was without a lawyer.

    Also, when I was stopped at the airport and questioned by the FBI they never even checked my bags. I find this to be rather odd…here is a man on the no fly list and they don’t even check his bags…however they were USMC bags with the EGA on them. LOL.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  14. Abe M wrote:


    HOORAH SEMPER FI as well. I’m happy to report that many I have received incredible support from miliary people.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink
  15. Spike wrote:

    Considering who carried out America’s second largest terrorist attack, I hope all tall, skinny white guys are on that no fly list. Who do you really trust on a plane anyway? My money is on the guy holding the big spanner(sorry that would be ‘wrench’ in American) during the last major service. Good luck Abe with all the legal stuff. Are you allowed to wear your former uniform in court? That would piss them off.

    Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink