A lawyer for Muhammad Ali Jr. accused the Department of Homeland Security on Friday of putting the son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali on a watch list after he was allegedly prevented from boarding a flight from Reagan National in D.C. to Fort Lauderdale. From the NY Daily News:
Muhammad Ali Jr. was stopped by officials at Reagan National Airport check-in counter on Friday as he was flying back home to Fort Lauderdale from Washington D.C., lawyer Chris Mancini told the Daily News.
Mancini said “quite obviously he’s now been put on a different status” and is on some form of watch list after his state ID was rejected and he was asked questions about where he was from for 20 to 25 minutes.
Officials refused to let the 44-year-old go to board a JetBlue plane until he produced his American passport, the lawyer, who said Ali Jr. was detained, said.
Apparently Debbie Wasserman Schultz was on the same flight and tweeted this out as well, accusing the DHS of detaining and “religiously profiling” Ali:
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) March 10, 2017
In an interview with the Sun-Sentinel, Ali went on to claim that his state ID wasn’t acceptable and that he had to show a passport to board the flight:
“I got harassed again,” Ali said in a telephone interview. “They had a ‘red flag’ on my flight. They said I wasn’t able to get on until I talked to homeland security.” He said he offered his state identification, which he was told wasn’t acceptable. “Luckily I had a passport so they let me on the plane.”
The TSA denied Wasserman Schultz’s charge and said Ali had a problem with his identification and at no time was he detained. From the Courier-Journal:
The TSA said it did not detain Ali Jr., but only stopped him to verify his identity. In an email to the Courier-Journal, a TSA spokesman wrote, “The TSA does not have the authority to detain passengers, and that did not happen.”
According to the TSA, Ali Jr. arrived at the check-in counter at Reagan National, at which time “a call was made to confirm Mr. Ali’s identity with TSA officials.” After 11 minutes, he was eventually cleared and sent to the security checkpoint. At the checkpoint, Ali Jr.’s “large jewelry” set off the scanner and he was patted down by agents. After a seven-minute screening he was cleared to catch his flight.
In an email exchange with the Courier-Journal, a TSA spokesman bristled at the suggestion Ali Jr. was detained, writing, “In the security world detain means to take into custody. … We don’t do that. Law enforcement does.”
The spokesman said Ali Jr. was free to walk out of the airport if he had decided not to fly.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority told the Courier-Journal that Ali Jr. was not arrested and that airport police were not contacted.
Reached by phone Friday, Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan told the Courier-Journal that Ali Jr. arrived around noon to check in for his JetBlue flight to Fort Lauderdale, which departed at 1 p.m. Ali Jr. was one of the first travelers to board the plane.
Lapan said he could not comment on why TSA felt the need to call and confirm Ali Jr.’s identity.
Over to you, Debbie. Care to comment why you rushed to judge the DHS and TSA?