Lawsuit: FBI used No Fly List threat against Muslims

NEW YORK - Four American Muslim men have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the FBI used the government's "No Fly List" to try to coerce them into becoming informants for the bureau.

According to the lawsuit, originally filed in October 2013 by Muhammad Tanvir but updated to include three more plaintiffs on April 22, the plaintiffs, all Muslim Americans, were approached by the FBI to work as informants. Some of the plaintiffs allege that they were placed on the No Fly List after declining the FBI's request to spy on fellow Muslims, while others say they were told that they could get off the list if they cooperated.

Tanvir v. Holder alleges that FBI agents "exploited the significant burdens imposed by the No Fly List, its opaque nature and ill-defined standards, and its lack of procedural safeguards, in an attempt to coerce Plaintiffs into serving as informants within their American Muslim communities and places of worship."

The suit states that being on the No Fly List "significantly interferes with their constitutional right to travel freely" and that "like the thousands of other individuals on the No Fly List, [the plaintiffs] lack any effective due process protections to challenge their placement" on the list.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the lawsuit, which names Attorney General Eric Holder as the lead defendant. The FBI also declined to comment.

The four plaintiffs - Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, Naveed Shinwari, and Awais Sajjad - are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project and co-counsel from Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP.

  • Julia Dahl

    Julia Dahl writes about crime and justice for