An anti-terrorist informant who provided crucial information to the FBI about terror plots in Iraq claims United Airlines conspired with various government agencies to prevent him from traveling to see his elderly mother because he no longer wanted to work for the U.S. government.
Seaf Almashiakhy is an Iraq war refugee who fled his homeland in 2004 for Jordan and then Syria before he was able to find permanent refuge in the United States in 2009. Seaf has been a naturalized U.S. citizen since 2015, and he first started working for the FBI as an anti-terrorist informant in 2014.
But Seaf claims that when he tried to stop working for the FBI two years later, he suddenly found his movements restricted, and airline tickets booked through United were canceled by the airline once he turned up at the airport.
Seaf says in a lawsuit filed in a New York district court that things came to a head after an unsuccessful trip to Jordan for the FBI when he was detained and interrogated by the local intelligence services.
Although he continued to work for the FBI and was even applying to become an interpreter for the agency, he says he finally decided to end his relationship with the FBI when government agents turned up at his ex-wife’s address in 2016 seeking information about him.
As a Muslim, Seaf says he found the behavior of the FBI agents offensive and told the agency that he no longer wanted to work for them.
From this point forward, Seaf alleges that the FBI has been essentially trying to force him back into a life of ‘servitude’ to the US government by preventing him from traveling to see his elderly mother, who still lives in Baghdad,
In 2021, Seaf was able to book a ticket with United to visit his mother in Iraq, but when he arrived at Buffalo Airport for the first of several flights to Baghdad, the United check-in agent called the police, and he was barred from traveling.
Then, in June 2023, Seaf attempted to travel with United on a domestic flight to New Jersey for a business trip, but he was again blocked from traveling. On this occasion, a United worker allegedly confirmed that Seaf had been placed on an FBI ‘No Fly’ list.
This was the first time in six years of being prevented from traveling that anyone had confirmed that Seaf was on a No Fly list.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that Seaf was, indeed, on a No Fly list because he “may be a threat to civil aviation or national security”.
Seaf is now suing the US government and United Airlines for $3 million in damages claiming the various government agencies and United conspired to violate his civil rights.
The lawsuit alleges that his right to travel was removed solely because of his Arabic heritage, Muslim religion and national Iraqi origin. The suit also alleged violation of the privacy act, false arrest and deprivation of rights.
The FBI is also accused of violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because the travel ban will prevent Seaf was traveling to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.
The case is filed under: 1:23-cv-00841
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.