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'Terrorist name' bars Swiss passenger from US

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'Terrorist name' bars Swiss passenger from US
Photo: Geneva Airport
12:34 CEST+02:00
A French woman was left stunned this week when she was barred from boarding a Swiss airlines flight to New York from Geneva airport after being told she was blacklisted. The reason, she says, is the name on her passport, Alic Aïda, which when pronounced (wrongly) can sound like Al Qaeda.

The woman was all set for a holiday in New York with her husband and their two children on Wednesday but was stopped as she was about to board the plane at the Swiss airport.

According to the woman whose first name is Aïda, second name Alic, she was told by a Swiss International Air Lines official that they had received notice from American border authorities that she was barred from entering the United States.

“At first I thought it was a joke, then I realized our trip was not going to happen,” she told the regional French newspaper Dauphine Libéré.

“To be on a blacklist like a terrorist, you become paranoid,” said Alic, who is from the Savoie region of France.

Wondering why she ended up being barred from America the young woman, who had painted the colours of the US flag on her finger nails in preparation for the trip, could only think of one reason, her name.

On her passport her surname ALIC appears then her first name Aïda.

“Alic Aida, Al Qaeda. When friends make the play on words to try and pull my leg, I am used to it, but not this. Especially since my name is actually pronounced Alitch. It is of Yugoslav origin. And now here I am labelled as a risk.”

According to Europe1 the young woman called the American consulate in Lyon to try and find out the reason why was barred from boarding thre plane but was unable to find out.

A spokesman for Swiss International Air Lines confirmed to The Local on Friday that the carrier had been informed by US border authorities not to allow Alic to board the plane, but they were not told why.

“The US sent us a notice and we have a duty as Swiss airlines to respect their decision,” the spokesman said.

“They don’t tell us the reason why people can’t board.”

No one at the office of the US Customs and Border Protection was available for immediate comment.

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