A 27-year-old California-born Muslim man reentered the U.S. on foot Thursday after learning he was on the government no-fly list and barred from getting on the plane.
Kevin Iraniha had tried to fly back to California on Tuesday from Costa Rica following his graduation from a Costa Rican university, San Diego's XETV-TV reported. Instead he was told he was on the no-fly list and would not be allowed to go back with his family.
"Basically, he was told he could not fly,” Iraniha's brother, Johan, told KCBS-TV. “They didn’t give him any information, they said to go to the U.S. Embassy.”
That's where officials told Iraniha that in order to get home, he would have to fly to Tijuana, Mexico and then cross the U.S. border on foot. The no-fly list, meant to keep suspected terrorists out of the U.S., does not block people from entering the country by other means.
Iraniha's father told XETV that his son was in Egypt last year during the Arab Spring protests, but insisted he is not the "revolutionary type." An interview with the Huffington Post described him as a "known pro-Palestinian and anti-war activist."
According to the Huffington Post, Iraniha contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations and was told what happened to him is an FBI tactic used to pressure Muslim-American men into becoming informants.
An FBI spokesman told XETV he couldn't comment on the case because of privacy laws, but said no one is added to the no-fly list "based solely on their religious affiliation or other personal characteristics."
When Iraniha finally crossed the border checkpoint on Thursday, his family was there waiting for him.
"I'm just happy to be in my hometown where I was born and raised," he told XETV.