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Watch-List Passenger ID'd as Cat Stevens
Tuesday, September 21, 2004


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WASHINGTON ? A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam ? formerly known as singer Cat Stevens (search) ? was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said.

United Airlines Flight 919 (search) was en route to Dulles International Airport when the match was made between a passenger and a name on the watch list, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration. The plane was met by federal agents at Maine's Bangor International Airport around 3 p.m., Melendez said.

Homeland Security Department (search) spokesman Dennis Murphy identified the passenger as Islam. "He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds," Murphy said, and would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday.

Officials had no details about why the peace activist might be considered a risk to the United States. Islam had visited New York in May to promote a DVD of his 1976 MajiKat tour.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Islam, 56, was identified by the Advanced Passenger Information System, which requires airlines to send passenger information to Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center. The Transportation Security Administration then was contacted and requested that the plane land at the nearest airport, that official said.
 
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