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Rahinah Ibrahim

Stanford grad continues fight to get off no-fly list

The federal appeals court ruling last week on gay marriage in California overshadowed other potentially big news in the legal community. 

A quieter decision Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has enabled Stanford University Ph.D. graduate Rahinah Ibrahim to clear another hurdle in her now years-long battle over the nation’s no-fly list, conceived to stop suspected terrorists from boarding airplanes.

The three-member panel ruled 2-1 that Ibrahim could continue to challenge [PDF] her 2005 detention at San Francisco International Airport, where police placed her in a holding cell for two hours. The ordeal eventually led to her being barred from re-entering the United States, a prohibition that continues today.

She’d arrived at the airport on Jan. 2, 2005, with her daughter and needed wheelchair assistance due to complications from a hysterectomy. The two were headed for Malaysia, where Ibrahim intended to present her doctoral research at a conference sponsored by Stanford.


Instead, officers from the San Francisco Police Department placed her in handcuffs and gave no reason for why she was being held. The government generally does not disclose if or why an individual is on one of its many watch lists. 

“Unspecified persons,” according to court documents, told Ibrahim that her name had been removed from the no-fly list, but someone later told her it was still there. The following day, authorities permitted Ibrahim to leave the country on a new flight to Malaysia.

Filed under: Public Safety, Daily Report


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