Syed Ali is a combat veteran.
He’s also a New York City police officer, and a major in the United States Army Reserve.
Somehow, however, he was still detained at Kennedy Airport in New York City at passport control last month after getting off a flight from Istanbul, Turkey.
This from The New York Times:
After landing, Officer Ali was led from passport control to a holding area for what Customs and Border Protection refers to as secondary screening. But instead of a quick check to confirm his identity, Officer Ali said, he was held for hours, past midnight. When he asked, after more than an hour of waiting, whether it would take much longer, an officer threatened to incarcerate him, he said.
“If you can’t sit patiently, I can gain compliance from you by putting you in a detainment cell,” he recalled a Customs and Border Protection officer’s telling him.
“I feel like my rights were violated,” Officer Ali said in an interview, still sounding a little shaken. “Are you telling me that every guy with the last name Ali is a terrorist? Are you telling me every guy with brown skin coming in from overseas is a terrorist?”
For two years, the soldier was deployed to Kuwait, on a mission to stop the Islamic State — ISIS. He was deployed to Afghanistan, too, in 2013. He was awarded with a Combat Action Badge for his role in ground combat there as well as 2008, when he was part of the surge in Iraq.
“I understand there are folks out there who might do bad things who have a name similar to mine,” he told the NYT.
“I’m more concerned with, what the average citizen is going through? It’s happening to other people and it’s probably a lot worse.”
He admits it was one of the lowest points of his life. That feeling of being in custody, and being powerless.
“I’ve dedicated my life to public service. I want my country to treat me fairly, too.”