By: Jared Evan
Mohamed Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at JFK International Airport in New York City and questioned for several hours about ties to terrorism. In response the mayor has contacted CAIR for legal support.
Khairullah was returning with his wife and four young children from Turkey, where they had been visiting relatives displaced from Syria, when he was pulled aside by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at JFK International Airport in New York City, NJ.com reported.
Khairullah, who has been mayor of Prospect Park, N.J., for more than a decade, said in a video posted to his Facebook page last month that CBP agents detained him and his family for almost three hours in early August after he returned home from a vacation in Turkey. The CBP also allegedly took his phone away despite his objections, Khairullah said, adding that it took him almost two weeks to get the device back, Time reported.
The agents questioned him about personal details, such as what he studied in college, his mother’s name and where he traveled.
They also asked if he was in contact with any terrorist cells during his trip and if he personally met with any terrorists, according to the New York Post
“It’s flat-out insulting,” Khairullah told the Bergen County Record. “It’s flat-out stereotyping of Muslims and Arabs.”
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told TIME that they could not comment on the individual case because of the federal Privacy Act but said the agency “treats all international travelers with integrity, respect and professionalism while keeping the highest standards of security.”
Khairullah told Turkish international news channel TRT World that airport officials started questioning him about his education and occupation before probing about who he met in Turkey.
“I said I met some elected officials in Turkey because I’m really impressed by how they take care of their communities,” Khairullah told Turkish media
Then, according to Khairullah, the official asked directly whether he met any terrorists.
“That’s when I said no and that I need to be speaking to my lawyer right now and we ended the conversation there,” Khairullah said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations gave Khairullah legal advice, according to TIME.
Some speculate that the mayor is politicizing what is a common occurrence to travelers arriving from nations known for terrorism. CAIR itself is highly controversial and many investigative journalists pointed out that CAIR is sometimes sympathetic to terrorism and even tied to radical Islamic groups.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a nonprofit investigative research group described CAIR in a report they released on the Islamic group and concluded: CAIR offers a benign mission statement–”to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” But a closer look at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) raises a host of troubling questions about its history and purpose.
TPT also concluded: Born of an effort to scuttle hopes for a negotiated Middle East peace, CAIR was listed among organizations tied to the Muslim Brotherhood’s American network. Its founders emerged from a separate Islamic organization that two courts have found played a supporting role for the terrorist group Hamas.