10 May 2012

No US visa over terrorist mix up

A British family has had their Florida holiday ruined after American authorities turned down a US visa application after the father's name showed up on a Most Wanted list of terrorist suspects.

US visa

Mr Abdulla now has to wait for his identity to be confirmed before he can receive his US visa.

Ahmed Abdulla, 51, was born in the Welsh town of Barry and has lived there his whole life yet his application for a US visa was declined after American authorities confused Mr Abdulla with Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah.

Abdullah Ahmed Abdulla is an Egyptian national and Al Qaeda member wanted by the United States for his involvement in a series of bombings at the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. He currently has a $3 million (£1.85 million) bounty on his head for information leading to his capture.

However, Mr Abdulla is a double glazing fitter who has travelled to the US 20 times before without issue and is now having to wait for his identity to be confirmed by US immigration authorities.

"They said I had such a similar name to the guy wanted by the FBI that it could take three months to sort it out," said Mr Abdulla.

Mr Abdulla and his family, wife Sheryl and daughters Shariffa and Samira, were supposed to fly out to Florida for a family holiday yesterday but have been forced to cancel their holiday, at a cost of almost £4,000, despite Mr Abdulla flying to the US Consulate in Belfast for an emergency interview.

"At the embassy they looked at me and said 'we know who you are and you're not him, but we can't issue you with a visa'."

The US Embassy advises travellers not to make travel plans until their visas have been secured.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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