JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A U.S. citizen originally from Bosnia has filed a federal lawsuit after he said he was stranded in his birth country for months because the U.S. improperly added him to the no-fly list.
READ: Lawsuit over no-fly list
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is representing Zijad Bosnic, a married truck driver with three children, who was born in Bosnia and moved to Jacksonville in 1997, becoming a U.S. citizen.
Bosnic said he was stopped from boarding a return flight from Bosnia to the United States, sparking a months-long fight to get back to the U.S. that ended Wednesday night.
Less than 24 hours later, Bosnic was at the federal courthouse with representatives from CAIR, filing the lawsuit.
“It’s really embarrassing. It is a shock,” Bosnic said. “There was a return flight ticket they issued me before that. If they have something to say or whatever, they know where I am.”
Bosnic's wife and children live in Bosnia, so he makes regular trips there to visit them, according to the complaint.
On March 1, Bosnic was preparing to fly back to the U.S. when he was blocked from boarding by Turkish Airlines. According to the complaint, all he was told was that he needed to take it up with the U.S. Embassy.
When Bosnic went there, he was advised to file a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security, and he did, the complaint says.
Then he had an interview with FBI agents, who asked if he was a terrorist and whether he believed ISIS was the reason he was prevented from flying, according to the complaint. The agents told Bosnic that they would help him fly again, but his formal complaint sat in the system until May, when he tried to fly home again and was blocked again, the lawsuit says.
It was then that Bosnic was informed he was on the no-fly list and that his security clearance as a trucker had been suspended, according to the lawsuit.
CAIR said it's not clear why Bosnic was placed on the no-fly list some time in 2017. They said he has not been arrested, charged or convicted of any type of terrorism-related offense.
Bosnic said the designation is also hurting his job as a trucker, because he's been told he can no longer access U.S. ports, like JaxPort.
He received a letter from the Transportation Security Administration that said, “you may pose a security threat warranting the immediate revocation of your Transportation Worker Identification Credential.”
“Of course, it’s a big stress for me and for my family and everything,” Bosnic said. "For the last four months, really, it’s been really stressful. And we’ve been trying to find out why they put me on that list, and that’s where we are."
The group said it wants Bosnic removed from the no-fly list and for the agencies that administer the list to provide legal ways for those placed on the list to be told why they were included and be able to contest it.
“Federal agencies like the FBI, the (Customs and Border Patrol), TSA and those responsible and involved in the creation and maintenance of a terror watch list don’t give U.S. citizens an opportunity, a fair and effective mechanism, where they can challenge their placement on this list,” CAIR attorney Omar Saleh said.
The TSA and FBI both released a brief statement when asked for comment saying only that their agencies do not comment on ongoing litigation.
According to the FBI, the no-fly list is a subset of the Terrorist Screening Database and inclusion on the list prevents a person from boarding a commercial flight that is set to enter U.S. airspace.
"Before the Terrorist Screening Center places an individual on the no-fly list, there must be credible information demonstrating that the individual presents a threat of committing an act of terrorism with respect to an aircraft, the homeland, U.S. facilities or interests abroad, or is a threat of engaging in or conducting a violent act of terrorism and is operationally capable of doing so," according to the FBI's website.
For more on the no-fly list, go to fbi.gov.