Imam on US no-fly list detained at JKIA

Police in Nairobi are detaining an American on the list of people not authorised to leave his country.

Mr Yussuf Awadir Abdi from Salt Lake City, Utah is being held at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Mr Abdi, the imam of Madina Masjid in Salt Lake City, had travelled to Kenya to pick up his family but was prevented from boarding a plane. His family was allowed to fly out of the country.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the United States’ largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, has filed a petition on his behalf seeking orders to allow him to board a plane back to the US.


The council, in its suit, names the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Terrorism Screening Centre and the Transportation Security Administration, which are all American agencies, as defendants.

“He travelled to Kenya to bring his wife and children to the US. All members of his family are either American citizens or have permission to enter and reside in this country,” the council said in a statement.

“Imam Abdi was added to the no-fly list when he left the country and was therefore prevented from boarding his flight home.”

The statement said: “As a result, Imam Abdi was unable to return home in time for the last 10 nights of the holy month of Ramadhan”.


Kenya’s Director of Immigration Gordon Kihalang’wa denied knowledge of the imam’s detention, saying he learnt of it from the media.

National Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said: “If he is on the no-fly list, we would want him to go back to where he came from”.

The American Muslim council did not say why the cleric was blacklisted.

The Nation established that Mr Abdi was flagged because US authorities accused him of funding an organisation in Kenya on a terrorism watch list.

“The federal government has used the no-fly list as a tool to attack the constitutional rights and liberties of innocent American Muslims,” said council National Litigation Director Lena F. Masri.

He argued that the US Government “wrongfully placed the imam on the list without notice or due process when he left the country, which effectively exiled him by preventing him from returning”.


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