Alexandria man detained in Kuwait is turned away from U.S.-bound flight

January 16, 2011

A 19-year-old U.S. citizen from Alexandria who has been detained in Kuwait was turned away Sunday from a flight back to the United States, his lawyer said.

Gulet Mohamed has been on the no-fly list, but his attorney and his family said Kuwaiti authorities had proposed that a ticket be bought for him. That, they said, led them to think that he would be permitted to board a Washington-bound flight.

However, the lawyer, Gadeir Abbas, said that when Mohamed was taken to the airport Sunday with the ticket, he was refused a boarding pass. Abbas said that indicated that Mohamed was still on the no-fly list.

Abbas had written earlier in an e-mail that the refusal would show conclusively that the United States is behind Mohamed's detention. He said he planned to file suit Tuesday against the federal government.

Mohamed, who moved with his family from Somalia to the United States when he was a toddler, was detained last month at an airport in Kuwait when he went there to renew his visa, Abbas said. Abbas is a staff attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

According to the lawyer, Mohamed said that while detained he was tortured by security agents who questioned him about his travels in Yemen and Somalia.

Abbas said Mohamed was asked whether he knew a cleric who was born in the United States and has been described as a propagandist for an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen.

Mohamed left Virginia to study Arabic in Yemen in March 2009 but stayed there only three weeks at the urging of his family before heading to Somalia, where he lived with relatives, said a sister.

She said her brother moved to Kuwait nine months ago to continue his studies and stayed with an uncle. On two previous occasions, Mohamed had renewed his visa at the Kuwait airport without incident, his attorney said.

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