SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — An American-born Muslim student who was prevented from flying to San Diego from Costa Rica after being told his name was on the U.S. government no-fly list returned home Thursday evening after flying to Mexico and then walking across the pedestrian border crossing to his waiting family.
Kevin Iraniha, 27, was met by his father, Nasser, brothers Jahan and Shervin, and several representatives from the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, including executive director Hanif Mohebi.
The council came to Iraniha’s aid this week after a friend referred the family to the organization, Mohebi said.
Iraniha left Costa Rica on Thursday morning and flew to Mexico City and then to Tijuana.
As he arrived across the border, he appeared tired but relieved. He was upbeat as he hugged his family.
“I’m happy to be here finally in my own hometown,” he said. “This is very disappointing to happen to anybody.”
Iraniha was born and raised in San Diego and is a San Diego State University graduate.
He graduated this week from a yearlong master’s program in international law at the University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. His father and brothers went to his graduation.
When they all went to the airport on Tuesday to return to San Diego, Iraniha was told he could not get a boarding pass for the flight. He was later told his name was on the no-fly list.
He said he was questioned by an FBI agent about recent travels to Iran, and about trips to India and Egypt.
He said Thursday night that he had flown home in December for winter break, spending several weeks in San Diego, and had no problems.
Iraniha is a self-described peace activist. He said he was disappointed to be treated in a skeptical way that people in other countries “are really fighting” against.
Mohebi was asked if Iraniha planned legal action. He deflected the question by saying the priority now is for Iraniha to spend time with family.
The government has so far not offered compensation for costs incurred by Iraniha, Mohebi said.
Nasser Iraniha said he just wants to know why his son’s name was put on the list, something his son has not been told.
“None of this makes sense,” he said.
“Whoever did this is not American,” the father said.
The U.S. Privacy Act prohibits the FBI from discussing who may or may not be on the no-fly list, which was started after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Because of the privacy law, the agency will not discuss specifics or what is or is not an investigation.
The list is overseen by the Terrorist Screening Center. In addition to the FBI, other law enforcement agencies make referrals to place individuals on the list.
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