Mourad Benchellali, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner,was barred from boarding a plane from France to Canada because it would pass through U.S. airspace.
Benchellali was in Europe to address a youth conference to tell them about the dangers of radicalization.
He was scheduled to leave from Lyon to Montreal on an Air Transat flight, when he was informed that he was on the U.S. no-fly list and would not be allowed to board.
This is the first time that Benchellali has planned a transatlantic flight since he returned to France in 2004 after being released from detention in Guantanamo Bay.
“I wasn’t going on vacation. I was going for prevention,” he said.
The U.S. Transportation and Security Administration checks all passenger manifests for any commercial flight that passes through American airspace.
If a passenger is on the U.S. no-fly list, an airline can re-book them to a different flight or cancel their ticket.
“Our personnel had to, and duly applied the provisions of a US security program known as Secure Flight, as all airlines must,” said an Air Transat spokesperson.
Benchellali uses his experiences from his time in an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan to council young people on the dangers of radicalization and jihad, in hopes of countering the Islamic State’s aggressive recruitment campaign that targets youth.