Attorney Says Muhammad Ali’s Son Stopped Again At Airport; TSA Says They Only Confirmed His ID

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Muhammad Ali’s son was stopped and questioned at an airport Friday for the second time in recent months, his attorney said.

The attorney said Muhammad Ali Jr. was questioned at a Washington airport before he was allowed to board a flight home to Fort Lauderdale, after meeting with lawmakers to discuss a separate airport detention incident last month.

On Friday, Attorney Chris Mancini says Ali Jr. was detained for 20 minutes as he attempted to board a JetBlue Airways flight. He spoke to Department of Homeland Security officials by telephone before he was allowed to board.

A spokeswoman for JetBlue referred questions to DHS officials.

The Transportation Security Administration said the agency confirmed the identity of Muhammad Ali’s son before he boarded a plane.

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said a call was made to confirm Ali Jr.’s identity when he arrived an at an airport check-in counter. She said he also was patted down because his jewelry set off a checkpoint scanner alarm.

Farbstein says the TSA doesn’t have the authority to detain passengers.

Ali Jr. believes he is being stopped because he’s a Muslim.

On Feb. 7, Ali Jr. was returning from a Black History Month event in Jamaica with his mother, Khalilah Camacho Ali, when they were both pulled aside and separated from each other while going through the immigration checkpoint on at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Mancini said at the time.

A law enforcement official told CBS News that Ali Jr. was detained for 57 minutes in the Feb. 7 incident so that his identify and passport could be verified. The official declined to provide additional details but said he was not detained because he was Muslim or had an Arabic name.

Ali Jr., 44, who confirmed his Muslim faith, was detained about two hours, despite telling officials that he’s Ali’s son and a native-born U.S. citizen, Mancini said. It was the first time Ali Jr. and his mother have ever been asked if they’re Muslim when re-entering the United States, he said.

“From the way they were treated, from what was said to them, they can come up with no other rational explanation except they fell into a profiling program run by customs, which is designed to obtain information from anyone who says they’re a Muslim,” Mancini said in a phone interview last month. “It’s quite clear that what triggered his detention was his Arabic name and his religion.”

During his detention, Ali Jr. was asked repeatedly about his lineage and his name, “as if that was a pre-programmed question that was part of a profile,” Mancini said.

Ali Jr. and his mother have been frequent global travelers. The family connects their treatment to President Donald Trump’s efforts to restrict immigration after calling during his campaign for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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