Ali Jr. told the Sun-Sentinel in a phone interview that he was "red flagged" while attempting to board a JetBlue flight headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida

By Alexia Fernandez
March 10, 2017 07:44 PM
Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of renowned boxing champion Muhammad Ali, claims he was detained once again on Friday in a Washington, D.C. airport after testifying about his previous detainment experience in February.

Ali Jr. told the Sun-Sentinel in a phone interview that he was red-flagged while attempting to board a JetBlue flight headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He spoke to members of a congressional subcommittee on border security on Thursday, describing his Feb. 7 incident that took place as he was returning back to Florida from an appearance in Jamaica with his mother.

“I got harassed again,” he claimed to the Sun-Sentinel. “They had a ‘red flag’ on my flight. They said I wasn’t able to get on until I talked to homeland security.”

He told the newspaper he offered his state identification, only to be told by officials that it was not acceptable. “Luckily, I had a passport so they let me on the plane,” he said.

Ali Jr. continued, claiming to the Sun-Sentinel that he was delayed for about 25 minutes while he spoke with an official from Homeland Security on the phone and that one of the questions they’d asked him was his place of birth.

The Courier-Journal reported that a Department of Homeland Security official disputed Ali Jr.’s claim of being detained, writing to the news outlet in an email on Friday, “He was not detained but we are gathering the facts and will get back to you shortly.”

“I don’t see why I have to do that just to get on the plane,” he said. “And another thing. I’m not out of the country. I’m in the United States.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was onboard Ali Jr.’s flight on Friday. She tweeted a photo of herself and Ali Jr., writing, “On way home on DOMESTIC FLIGHT Muhammad Ali Jr. detained AGAIN by @DHSgov. Religiously profiling son of ‘The Greatest’ will not make us safe.”

Ali Jr.’s lawyer, Chris Mancini, told the New York Daily News, “Quite obviously he’s now been put on a different status,” and is on some form of watch list.

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In February, Ali Jr. and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, were taken aside due to their “Arabic-sounding names,” according to Mancini.

Mancini claimed Ali Jr. was held for nearly two hours, and forced to answer questions such as, “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?” according to the Courier-Journal.

Camacho-Ali showed officers a photo of herself with her famous ex-husband and was not detained, the Miami New Times reported. Her son didn’t have a photo to prove his famous pedigree, even though he does hold a U.S. passport and was born in Philadelphia.