By Chris Hawley and John Curran Mar 22, 2011 2:06AM
Abraham J. Mashal
Abe Mashal, a 31-year-old dog trainer from St. Charles, says FBI agents told him he ended up on the government’s no-fly list because he exchanged e-mails with a Muslim cleric they were monitoring.
The topic: How to raise his children in an interfaith household.
Mashal said he has never had any links to terror or terrorists and is a “patriotic,” honorably discharged Marine Corps veteran.
He found out he’d been flagged last April, when he tried to board a flight to Spokane, Wash., to train dogs for a client. Since then, his family members and friends have been questioned, and he said he has lost business because he isn’t allowed to fly.
Mashal is one of 17 plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in June by the American Civil Liberties Union over the list.
FBI agents questioned him at Midway Airport, then at his home. Finally, he was summoned to a hotel in Schaumburg, where more FBI agents told him he’d been placed on the no-fly list because of an e-mail he had sent to an imam — a Muslim cleric — whom they’d been watching.
Mashal said he had sought the imam’s advice about raising children in a mixed-religion household. Mashal is Muslim; his wife is Christian.
He said the agents offered to get him off the list — if he would become an undercover informant at mosques. He refused and said he feels he was being blackmailed.
“I feel like I’m living in communist Russia, not the United States of America, for someone to jump into my life like that,” he said.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, which enforces the no-fly list, wouldn’t comment. In October, Homeland Security sent Mashal a letter saying that it had reviewed his file and that “it has been determined that no changes or corrections are warranted at this time.”