NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A local man was finally back in New York on Monday night, and remained confused about why he was forbidden from flying home from Europe for more than three weeks.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, Samir Suljovic had no way home during those agonizing three weeks overseas.
“Pretty much I was like a mouse in a maze,” Suljovic said. “I didn’t know where to go, and I was wondering if I would ever come home.”
The 26-year-old Queens native and American-born citizen had been visiting family in Europe since July. But when he tried to board a plane out of Austria on Oct. 1, agents told him he was not permitted to fly.
“They didn’t say nothing,” he said. “They said maybe it’s a glitch in the system.”
Suljovic said he doesn’t know why he was on a no-fly list, and the FBI, which maintains the list, would not tell him. In fact, passengers cannot even find out if they are on the list until they arrive at the airport.
“They never gave me a reason,” Suljovic said. “Me and my family demanded several times to know why, and they never gave us a reason once.”
Neither the FBI nor the U.S. Department of Homeland Security responded to CBS 2’s numerous phone calls.
Suljovic got letters from the American embassy in Austria, saying he was OK to come home. But on Oct. 11, he was turned away again, and only on Monday was he allowed to board a flight.
He said he thinks he was targeted because he is Muslim.
“I feel definitely discriminated against,” he said. “I mean, it’s obvious. I have a beard, I wear a hat on my head, I keep my pants above my ankles.”
And when Suljovic arrived in Philadelphia on Monday afternoon, he was interrogated for two hours. He missed his flight to LaGuardia International Airport, and was forced to spend even more money on a train to Penn Station.
“I have a distressed and distraught family waiting for me, and I’m going to go home to them,” he said.
Suljovic finally returned home after 22 days stranded abroad – for reasons he still doesn’t understand.
If you were in Suljovic’s position, how would you feel, and what would you do? Tell us below…