Border Patrol agents turned this Moroccan Muslim from Canada away and refused to let him into the country because they deemed him to be a threat after finding dangerous materials on his phone. Yassine Aber (below), 19, was denied entry to the U.S.while trying to cross the border from Quebec after being held up for 5 hours, and asked about a photo of him with suspected ISIS recuit.
CBC A search of Aber’s phone led U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to a photo on Facebook in which he was tagged along with Samir Halilovic. Halilovic is one of three University of Sherbrooke students believed to have left Canada in 2014 to join Islamic State fighters in Syria.
Aber told CBC News that he didn’t know Halilovic well, but the two had friends in common and attended the same mosque. He said the group photo was taken at a wedding four years ago.
Aber, who was traveling on a Canadian passport to the U.S. to attend a track meet in Boston, was made to wait five hours while he was questioned by border guards. “They made me fill in papers and made me talk about myself, where I’m from, where I was born,” Aber told CBC News.
He said he was also asked about his parents and their origins, and what countries he has recently visited. Aber said he was then made to hand over his phone and its password. He was also fingerprinted.
When the border agents returned, Aber said they took him in for another round of questions, which were more pointed about his Muslim faith, the mosque he attended, and people he knew there.
“They asked me, ‘Do you go to the mosque?’ I said, ‘Yes, sometimes.’ They said, ‘How often? Which mosque do you go to?’ They asked me about specific people,” he told CBC News. Here are some other questions they ask of Muslims:
“Have you participated in any formal religious training or schooling?”
“What house of worship do you attend?”
“Do you have any relatives or friends who have been martyred fighting in the defense of your religious beliefs?”
“Do you know or have you heard of anyone, in your town/village who has been martyred in defense of your religious beliefs?”
“What is/are the name(s) of those martyr(s)”
“When did they become martyrs?”
“Where did they become martyrs?”
In a subsequent interview late Friday afternoon, Aber revealed that one of the people he was asked about was Halilovic. Ultimately, Aber was told he wasn’t allowed to enter the U.S., but his teammates and coach were permitted entry.
Julie Lessard, a Montreal lawyer who specializes in immigration law, said Aber’s acquaintance with Halilovic could have been enough for border agents to deny him entry. “They will look at all connections and if they have any belief that he could be linked to anything that could be a threat to security, that’s a reason that they can use for denying your entry.”
Border agents are not obliged to disclose the reasons for denying entry to a visitor.
Fadwa Alaoui, a Moroccan-born Canadian citizen, was fingerprinted and photographed then turned away. She is Muslim and wears a hijab. Alaoui told CBC she has travelled to the U.S. many times in the past on her Canadian passport without a problem.
Aber is the fifth Canadian with Moroccan roots that CBC knows of to be denied entry at one of Quebec’s border points with Vermont. Last Saturday, two cousins traveling with two children on a day trip to Vermont were denied entry after facing questions about their Muslim faith and Moroccan origins.
Canada’s public security minister called the case “troubling” and said his department will look into the case.
Below is Syrian jihadist’s call to mother of son fighting in the Syrian Army to tell her he had just cut off her son’s head: