Ottawa resident Ali SeifEnnasr lost his job after he was detained and jailed overnight at the Chicago airport.

Ottawa resident Ali SeifEnnasr lost his job after he was detained and jailed overnight at the Chicago airport.

Ali SeifEnnasr

[Jun 11, 2008 03:49 PM]

Ali SeifEnnasr travelled from Ottawa to Chicago on October 22, 2006 to attend a two-week training session before taking up a new job in Toronto with a U.S.-based employer, a business consulting firm. But the Tunisia-born Canadian never got to attend the training and in the process, lost his job.

He was detained at the O'Hare airport by several FBI and Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security officials, fingerprinted and questioned at length about his ethnic origin, his religion (in which Mosque he prayed) and whether he was working to overthrow the U.S. government. He was put in a cell overnight.

Homeland Security officials sent him back to Canada the next day saying he was a threat to national security.

Since then Mr. SeifEnnasr has been trying to find out why he was singled out. The U.S. firm that hired him for a job in Canada submitted all relevant information to the U.S. Immigration Authorities a month prior to the scheduled training session. He cleared U.S. Customs and Immigration in Ottawa without encountering any problems.

His new employer told him they would keep his job until he could attend the training session, but as the weeks dragged on and Mr. SeifEnnasr could not travel to the U.S., they hired someone else. "I lost my job. It's my reputation," he says. He wants to know what happened between the time he cleared customs in Canada and landed in Chicago.

In December 2006, hoping media attention would help his cause. Mr. SeifEnnasr gave an interview to a local paper. Since then his job prospects have vanished despite the fact that he holds two degrees. "When I go for an interview, I'm always questioned about what happened in Chicago and I don't get the job."

Mr. SeifEnnasr has repeatedly written to the Foreign Affairs minister and U.S. officials in an attempt to clear his name and is seeking compensation for his ordeal. But despite the help of his New Democrat M,P. Paul Dewar, he still has received no explanation.