American Citizens Denied Entry to U.S. for Refusing FBI Polygraph

Two United States citizens have been denied re-entry to the United States for exercising their constitutional right to refuse to submit to FBI interrogation and polygraph “testing.” UPI Homeland and National Security Editor Shaun Waterman reports in part:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) — A Californian father and son are in legal limbo in Pakistan after their name came up in a terrorism investigation, and federal officials told them they will not be allowed to fly home unless they submit to interviews and lie detector tests.

Muhammad Ismail, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, and his 18-year-old U.S.-born son, Jaber Ismail, have not been charged with any crime, but the son is one of a number of young men from the small agricultural community of Lodi, Calif., named as having attended terrorist training camps.

The two, who have been in Pakistan for four years, attempted to return to the United States twice, only to be told by airline staff that they were on a “no-fly” list and would have to get “clearance” from the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, their lawyer, Julia Mass, told United Press International.

She said the younger Ismail was eventually told by an embassy official that they would only be allowed to return if he submitted to a lie detector test. “They told him ‘You have to take the polygraph exam, or we won’t let you go home.'”

She said Ismail, who had already been questioned once by FBI agents at the embassy, had accepted advice from relatives not to undergo the polygraph.

And Randal C. Archibold of the New York Times in an article titled, “U.S. Blocks Men’s Return to California From Pakistan,” reports in part:

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 28 — Federal authorities have prevented two relatives of a father and son convicted recently in a terrorism-related case from returning home to California from Pakistan unless they agree to be interviewed by the F.B.I.

It is unclear whether the men, Muhammad Ismail, 45, and his son Jaber, 18, have a direct connection to the terrorism case or if they have been caught up in circumstance.

The United States attorney’s office in Sacramento declined Monday to answer questions about the Ismails beyond confirming that the men had not been permitted to fly into the United States and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation wanted to question them.

The United States attorney, McGregor W. Scott, reiterated a comment he had made to The San Francisco Chronicle, which reported Saturday about the Ismails’ troubles.

“They’ve been given the opportunity to meet with the F.B.I. over there and answer a few questions, and they’ve declined to do that,” Mr. Scott said through a spokeswoman, Mary Wenger.

The Ismails live in Lodi, Calif., a small farming town south of Sacramento, where their relatives Umer Hayat and his son, Hamid, were arrested last summer as part of what federal prosecutors said was an investigation into terrorist links.

The Hayats are the only people to have been charged. Hamid Hayat, the nephew of Muhammad Ismail and the cousin of Jaber, was convicted in April of supporting terrorists by attending a training camp in Pakistan. Umer Hayat, in a deal reached with prosecutors after jurors deadlocked on terrorism charges, pleaded guilty in May to lying to the authorities about carrying $28,000 to Pakistan from California.

The Ismails discovered they were on the federal government’s no-fly list of people not allowed to enter the United States after they were refused permission to board a connecting flight in Hong Kong on April 21; they had been trying to return to California after several years in Pakistan, said Julia Harumi Mass of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, who is representing them.

In Hong Kong, Ms. Mass said, they were told there was a problem with their passports; other family members traveled on to California, while the Ismails returned to Pakistan. There, a consular officer suggested there had been a mix-up and advised them to book a direct flight to the United States, but at the airport, they were told they were on the no-fly list, she said.

Jaber Ismail, who was born in the United States, was questioned by the F.B.I. at the American Embassy in Islamabad, but his father, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, declined to participate, Ms. Mass said. Jaber Ismail has refused further interrogation without a lawyer and has declined to take a polygraph test; Ms. Mass said the men were told these conditions had to be met before the authorities would consider letting them back into the United States.

The Ismails were well advised to refuse the polygraph. Polygraphy has no scientific basis whatsoever, and as used by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, often serves as a pretext for interrogating a suspect without a lawyer present. Indeed, the conviction of the Ismails’ cousin, Hamid Hayat, on terrorism charges may well be the result of a false confession coerced after a pretext polygraph “test.” In this regard, see the discussion thread, Ex-FBI Agent Doubts Case Against Hamid Hayat.

That any American citizen should be denied re-entry to the United States for declining to submit to a criminal interrogation, let alone such pseudoscientific quackery as polygraph “testing,” is an outrage worthy of a police state, not a constitutional democracy.

Comments 2

  • This is absolutely astounding & brings goosebumps. I do not know of any court in the country which permits the results of polygraph tests to be admitted because of all the problems associated with them. A basic promise of the Bill of Rights is that any citizen of this country can thumb his/her nose at the police. Only if the police have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed may they then act, and then the person has the right to defend himself in court.

    No wonder the ACLU has more & more people in their corner these day.

  • Regardless of the merits of this case, would not presence upon an embassy be the same a standing upon US soil. As a US citizen they are then being denied access to representation and in fact habeas corpus under Constitutional law. Being denied the right to fair hearing among ones peers is a fundamental to rights of citizenship. My assumption is that the patriot act has initiated a state of modified martial law (i.e. PDD/EO) Hence, civil rights and the Bill of Rights are no longer an assurance. IF that is so, then what is the purpose of any security?

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