From WPFP. Gotta catch ‘em young!
Eighteen-month-old Riyanna has been called a lot of things: cute, adorable and now … a suspected terrorist.
She was called that on Tuesday night at the Ft Lauderdale Airport. She and her parents had just boarded a JetBlue flight when an airline employee approached them and asked them to get off the plane, saying representatives from the Transportation Security Administration wanted to speak to them.
And I said, ‘For what?'” Riyanna’s mother told only WPBF 25 News on Wednesday. “And he said, ‘Well, it’s not you or your husband. Your daughter was flagged as no fly.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?'”
Riyanna’s father was flabbergasted.
“It’s absurd,” he said. “It made no sense. Why would an 18-month-old child be on a no-fly list?”
Riyanna’s parents, who asked not to be identified, said they think they know the answer to that question. They believe they were profiled because they are both of Middle Eastern descent. Riyanna’s mother wears a hijab, a traditional head scarf. That’s why they have asked to remain anonymous. They said they’re concerned about repurcussions. That said, they are both Americans, born and raised in New Jersey, just like their daughter.
Riyanna’s parents said once they were taken off the plane, they were met by TSA agents and made to stand in the terminal for about 30 minutes.
“We were put on display like a circus act because my wife wears a hijab,” Riyanna’s father said.
Eventually, the child’s parents said they were told they could reboard the plane though they added that nobody offered an apology or even an explanation for what happened. The family refused to get back on the plane because they were embarrassed. They chose instead to leave the airport, but they still want to know why and how this happened.
WPBF contacted JetBlue and was told this was an issue with the Transportation Safety Administration. JetBlue also said both it and the TSA are investigating the incident.
But the TSA disagreed, telling WPBF this is an airline issue and therefore, it is not investigating. The TSA also said that since Riyanna and her parents were issued boarding passes, that means they had been cleared by the TSA and were definitely not on the no-fly list.
Riyanna’s father said he plans to consult an attorney.
“We were humiliated,” he said. “We were embarrassed. We were picked on.”