A McAlester native who recently was prevented from leaving the Middle East will attempt to return there Wednesday.
Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Saadiq Long, a U.S. Air Force veteran, plans to board a flight from Oklahoma City on Wednesday, with his ultimate destination Qatar, where he has been living with his wife and children for several years.
Beginning in April 2012, Long, 43, was prevented from returning from Qatar to Oklahoma several times by officials at the Doha, Qatar, airport. Long had been teaching English in the Middle East since 2000 and wanted to return to McAlester to visit his mother, who has congestive heart failure. The veteran surmised that he had been placed on a “no-fly” list by U.S. law enforcement agencies and contacted the Oklahoma City chapter of CAIR for help.
Long eventually was able to board a flight and return to the United States on Nov. 19, where he arrived at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.
Tuesday, Soltani said an attorney with CAIR sent a letter in late January to the FBI in Oklahoma City giving the agency information about Long's plans to return to Qatar. He said the attorney asked that Long be allowed to travel as any normal citizen would be.
“In light of his past travel difficulties, Mr. Long requests that he be accorded the same right given to millions of American citizen travelers every day: the right to board the plane,” attorney Gadeir Abbas wrote.
Soltani said Long had no other run-ins with local law authorities after CAIR-Oklahoma held a December news conference in which Long and his sister, an Oklahoma City resident, said they had been harassed by the FBI several times since Long's return to McAlester.
“He's been through a lot, so we hope he will be able to go back to Qatar without any issues,” Soltani said. “CAIR Oklahoma will be here in the event he needs us.”