Mohammad Tariq Mahmood made headlines when he claimed that his British Muslim family was barred from entry into the United States "because he was Muslim," which kept him from taking his children on a much-anticipated trip to Disneyland. However, new information suggests that Homeland Security may have had a good reason to deny Mahmood and his brother entry into the U.S. with their children.
First, it was pointed out that Mahmood and his brother were traveling alone with nine children. Their wives reportedly remained behind in London because one was allegedly sick. However, new information suggests one of the wives may have been in Pakistan at the time of the trip. Also, Mohammad's brother, who was traveling with him and the children, had previously been barred from entry into Israel, and a Facebook account linked to the family's home address was tied to pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda material.
Mahmood claims that he doesn't know about the Facebook account and says that "it could be because of Donald Trump" that he wasn't allowed in the United States with his children, not because of the Facebook link to the Taliban and al-Qaeda or the fact that his brother was denied entrance into Israel on a previous occasion.
— BI UK Politics (@BIUK_Politics) December 24, 2015
The Daily Mail reports that Mohammad Tariq Mahmood was denied entry to the United States as he traveled with his brother and nine children to California. The British Muslim said that "something [was] wrong with my ESTA [Electronic System for Travel Authorization] and that I wouldn't be able to board." Mahmood says he pressed for a reason why the family was being denied entrance into the U.S. when their ESTAs had cleared just six weeks prior but were given no firm answer.
"I had made sure we had our ESTAs cleared six weeks ago so I couldn't think what could be wrong. I asked why we weren't allowed to board. I had to be persistent. He wouldn't tell me why and said he didn't know at first. He finally said they had had a call from Washington DC from homeland security and that I wasn't allowed to board. He wouldn't tell me anything more. They can't react like that just because we are Muslim. We are decent people. My kids are obviously upset."
Though Mahmood says that the U.S. can't simply bar them from entry due to their religion, it seems that Homeland Security denied the family's entrance because of a Facebook account linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, which linked to the family's home address. The Facebook account was reported by ITV News and indicates that someone using the Mahmood family's address setup a pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda Facebook page. The Facebook page was set up under the name Hamza Hussain, Hamza is the first name of Mahmood's 18-year-old son. It reportedly lists the job titles "supervisor at Taliban and leader at al-Qaeda" and appears to possibly be a "joke." However, Homeland Security is not likely to take any joke lightly when it comes to pro-Taliban or al-Qaeda rhetoric, especially for those wanting to travel to the United States simply for a leisure trip.
Mahmood says that he knows nothing about the Facebook account and that it is not his son's account. However, he couldn't give a reason, other than hacking, for why the account was set up in their name. Meanwhile, he did admit that his brother was barred entrance to Israel nine or 10 years ago, which may have also played a role in the family's denied entrance into the U.S.
"He was touring a few countries nine or 10 years ago and decided to visit the Grand Mosque. Then he was stopped because he has a big beard, and that. It was not like he was prosecuted or convicted of anything afterwards. Maybe the authorities were being awkward. In the end he just came back home."
Mahmood says that if his brother or Facebook was the problem, why wouldn't it have been uncovered during the initial ESTA scan six weeks prior to the trip?
"So far there have been no answers. If Facebook was the problem, why has it come out now? If my brother was the problem, why has it come out now?"
The family says they have received no definitive answer as to why they were denied entrance into the U.S. Therefore, Mahmood has taken to blaming GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump for his plight.
"It could be because of Donald Trump as why otherwise would all of this spring up on us. I just want an explanation. Or else, where is this all going to stop?"
Mahmood did not discuss the issue surrounding the whereabouts of his wife during the planned Disneyland vacation. However, the family claimed that initially the brothers' wives did not go on the trip due to one woman being sick and a child who was unable to obtain a passport. However, it is now believed that Mr. Mahmood's wife was in Pakistan at the time.
Was a good reason to stop British Muslim going to Disneyland. Better to be safe than sorry. Innocent people matter. https://t.co/lZv8OXuzos — I'm Just Saying. (@ImportantStufff) December 24, 2015
With so many unknowns surrounding the case, do you think that Homeland Security made the correct decision? If Homeland Security found the Facebook account with possible links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban along with the details of a previous detainment by one of the Mahmood brothers in Israel, is that enough to bar the family from entering the United States?
[Photo by Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images]