Everyone's a potential 'terrist' to the all-paranoid 'patriots'
January 3, 2006 -- A cherubic-cheeked, 4-year-old boy almost didn't get to spend Christmas with his adoring Bronx grandparents — after clueless security heavies at two airports demanded his mom prove he's not a terrorist.
Little Edward Allen's incredulous mom yesterday angrily detailed for The Post the bureaucratic nightmare that she and her pint-sized son encountered both at La Guardia Airport and Bush Intercontinental in Houston when her son's name popped up on the feds' "no-fly" terror watch list. "They said, 'We need ID for your son.' I said, 'You're joking,' " said Houston resident Sijollie Allen, a 39-year-old payroll accountant. "The man said, 'No I'm very serious. It clearly stipulates I need ID for him.'
"I told them, 'He doesn't need any ID — he's 4 years old!' " the mom said. "It was ridiculous. You can tell he's not in any terrorist war. Would they let a terrorist in pre-K class?" Sijollie Allen said her and Edward's saga first began Dec. 21, when she and her son approached the Continental Airlines ticket counter at Bush Intercontinental to head to New York. "They just said, 'You're on the [government's no-fly] list,' " Sijollie Allen said. "I asked if we were both on the list. They said, 'No, you're not on the list. He [Edward] is,' " the mom told KTRK TV in Houston.
It turns out there is an Edward Allen on the federal Transportation Security Administration's "no-fly" list of suspected terrorists — but he's clearly not 4 years old. Continental officials finally let the boy through, after some heavy pleading from his mother for them to use "common sense." "He was upset," the mom said of her son. "When my sister picked us up at the airport [in Queens], he told her, 'Auntie, it's not my mommy — it's me that's on the list.' He doesn't even know what the list is." Sijollie Allen said she then realized that she would have just as hard a time getting back home from New York — so she cut short their vacation with her Bronx relatives to make sure she made it in time.
But she didn't know that airline security at La Guardia would prove an even worse ordeal. "In order for him to get cleared, you have to fill out a form and provide three notarized forms of ID, like a military ID or driver's license," she said. She said she had her son's birth certificate at home but doesn't have any other forms of ID for him. "We were finally allowed to fly, but they had to get special clearance to get us on the plane," she said. Continental spokesman David Messing said the airline was "conforming to TSA requirements" when it demanded that the mom provide ID for the boy, and that "these cases happen all the time."
Yolanda Clark of the security administration agreed. "The process really applies to anyone," she said of the airline security. Still, "I am going to personally pass [the case] on to the redress office," Clark said, adding that she would urge Allen to contact the office to get help directly from personnel there. Clark said she couldn't reveal anything about the real Edward Allen who is on the feds' terror list, because of security reasons. Meanwhile, Sijollie Allen said her son has quite a "What Happened to Me on My Christmas Vacation" story to tell to his friends in pre-K.
"I only wished my baby was in diapers. Then if they had asked to check and search him, I would have taken off his dirty diaper and told them to do a DNA test," the mom said.