Markham boy, 6, on no-fly list, parents say

The federal public safety minister has promised to review the case of a six-year-old Markham, Ont., boy whose parents say has been flagged as a travel risk since he was a toddler.

'Every agent has been really sympathetic to our situation,' Adam Ahmed's mother says

6-year-old Ont. boy's parents say he's on no-fly list

6 years ago
Duration 2:08
Syed Adam Ahmed has trouble travelling because his name happens to appear on the Deemed High Profile list, his parents say

The federal public safety minister has promised to review the case of a six-year-old Markham, Ont., boy whose parents say has been flagged as a travel risk since he was a toddler.

Syed Adam Ahmed's family has kept him unaware of the security attention surrounding him, but they say they have repeatedly gotten in touch with airline staff and government officials to find out why their son has been targeted. 

"We try to keep him protected from all this stuff, because we don't want him to feel singled out and stigmatized," Adam's mother, Khadija Cajee, told CBC News.

Cajee and her husband, Sulemaan Ahmed, said they never got a straight answer from staff at the Transportation and Public Safety departments about what list their son might be on — or whether he is even on it.

Instead, it was an Air Canada agent who tipped them off when Adam was just a toddler, his mother said.

"Every agent has been really sympathetic to our situation," Cajee said. "There are always eye rolls, they're always in disbelief. A lot of times they think it's my husband so they look at him, but he always says to them, 'No, it's the little guy down there.'"

Adam and his dad, Sulemaan Ahmed, got held up en route to the Winter Classic. (Contributed: Sulemaan Ahmed)

Although this has kept happening since Adam was a toddler, his parents say they worry the security checks will become more intrusive as their son grows up.

Airline officials have offered several suggestions to make travel easier for the family, including applying for an Aeroplan card — he has, and it only works some of the time, his parents say — or even changing Adam's name.

"I think that's putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound, quite frankly," Ahmed said. "I think we need to look at the government and Air Canada to work together to find a solution for everyone."

The situation came to the public's attention when Ahmed tried to take his little Habs fan to the Winter Classic game on New Year's Day in Boston — and he snapped a picture of the computer screen showing that Adam had been flagged on the Deemed High Profile list.

Frustrated, Ahmed tweeted a picture of the warning, asking Air Canada why the little boy had been targeted, something that's happened with multiple airlines, the family says.

People retweeted the message more than 160 times and Ahmed soon heard from his MP Jane Philpott and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

The Liberals had campaigned on a promise to review the no-fly list and Goodale said that's happening now and will soon be part of a public consultation.

"The reports of Mr. Ahmed and his son, Adam's, experience during their recent travel to Boston is certainly cause for concern and I will be reviewing the specifics of their case with officials in the coming days," he said in a statement sent to CBC News.

Adam's mother questioned the validity of a list that includes innocent people's names.

"Adam's date of birth and his age should be proof enough that he shouldn't be on this list," Cajee said. "Because he is not the problem."


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