Philippines

Published on Monday, October 9, 2006

What’s in a name? A great deal of hassle if its the wrong one!

Reports from the USA tell of the hassle a Connecticut man faces when travelling because he happens to have the same name as two people on the USA’s terrorist watch list.

The name Robert F Johnson is not only that of a proud community service leader, town selectman, volunteer firefighter and grandfather, but also a name on a list of 44,000 that were placed on a watch list by the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Robert told his local paper, “From what I have been told, it is all because there is one Robert F. Johnson who is a Black Panther and another who is a convicted arms dealer with one of them born in the same month and year as me and because of that, I guess it raises a red flag when I show up at the airport."

Johnson, a frequent flyer, said he had his worst airport experience in Miami in 2004, when he was traveling with his wife, Janice, on vacation to a time-share condominium they own in St. Maarten and during a check of his carry-on baggage, Johnson said he was led to a room with armed guards and strip-searched. "I felt like I was in jail," Johnson said. "They took my passport and told me to sit down. Here I am a grandfather, a former town official and a volunteer firefighter and I'm being treated like a criminal”.  “Not a soul would tell me why I was being detained, of course at the time I had no idea I was on the government's list."

He was released after two hours, but missed his flight and he said he went through a similar experience last year in Miami on the way to St. Maarten, since deciding to no longer take connecting flights to and from Miami.

Donna Bucella, an FBI official, said in a preview of a "60 Minutes" report on CBS's web site "Well, Robert Johnson will never get off the list". "They’r going to be inconvenienced every time, because they do have the name of a person who's a known or suspected terrorist."

Report by The Mole

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