Is This Lady Barred from the US Because Her Name Resembles ‘Al-Qaeda’?


So this is a pretty bizarre story. A French woman attempting to travel on holiday to New York with her husband and two children was denied entry into the US for no apparent reason.

Aïda Alic and her family had a connection in Geneva, and as she was getting ready to board, she was informed by Swiss Airlines officials that she was blacklisted and was therefore denied access. Her family had no choice but to cancel the trip and the family lost around $3,800 as their return flights were non-refundable. And Alic, who claims no connection to extremist or terrorist organizations, was left absolutely clueless as to why she could not enter the US.

She told French newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré:

“At first I thought it was a joke, but then I realized that our trip was fizzled out,” said Alic, a resident of the Savoie region in south-eastern France. “To be on a blacklist like a terrorist, you become paranoid,” the 33-year-old added.

Despite her attempts to contact the American Consulate and get to the bottom of this mess, she received no explanation. She then realized that in her passport, her name appears as “Alic, Aïda,” which sort of looks like it would sound similar to ‘Al-Qaeda.’ And that’s the best reason she could come up with for her sudden blacklisting.

This seems like a stretch. But at the same time, could you put it past the American terrorist watchlist system (which as of December 2012 boasts 875,000 names)? I want to believe that poor Aïda Alic (whose last name of Yugoslav origin is actually pronounced “Alitch” rather than “Alik”) was the victim of a random fluke in the system. At the same time, I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if the appearance of her name caused some person with authority and a misguided understanding of irony to put her name on some list.

Now losing $3,800—that’s some harsh salt in the wound.

Image via Getty.

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