WASHINGTON – The former Cat Stevens was slated to be deported to England on Wednesday because of U.S. government concerns that the soft-rock singer turned Muslim activist has ties to terrorism.
The “Peace Train” singer was placed on the no-fly list this summer after new intelligence showed Stevens – now known by his Muslim name Yusuf Islam – had “connections to groups involved in terrorist activities,” said a U.S. government official. A second senior U.S. official said there were concerns that Islam – believed to have provided money to the militant Palestinian group Hamas – may have visited an Islamic extremist camp in South Asia sometime in the past.
Islam’s brother David Gordon called the charges “complete and utter rubbish.”
“The man has done nothing but give money to people in need,” Gordon said from Princeton, N.J.
“He loves America. That’s the crazy thing about all this.”
The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, was investigating, how Islam, a British citizen, was able to board the U.S.-bound United Airlines flight. The fact that his name was on the no-fly list should have meant that airline officials should have stopped him at the gate in London. By the time his name raised a red flag with U.S. officials, his plane was already in the air.
The Washington, D.C.-bound flight was diverted to Bangor, Maine.
Islam had been on U.S. government watch lists for years but had been permitted to enter the country several times for tours to promote his music, officials said. He was in the United States as recently as May.