WASHINGTON -- A plane bound for Washington from London was diverted to Maine yesterday after passenger Yusuf Islam, formerly known as pop singer Cat Stevens, showed up on a US watch list, federal officials said.
United Airlines Flight 919 was en route to Washington Dulles International Airport when the match was made between the passenger and the watch list, said Nico Melendez, spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.
The plane was met by federal agents at Maine's Bangor International Airport around 3 p.m., Melendez said. The two federal officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, identified the passenger as Islam. They said Islam was denied entry on national security grounds, but had no details about why the peace activist was considered a risk to the United States.
One official said that Islam, 56, was identified by the Advanced Passenger Information System, which requires airlines to send passenger information to US Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center. TSA was contacted and requested that the plane land at the nearest airport, the official said.
"He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds," said homeland security spokesman Dennis Murphy. He said the man would be put on the first available flight out of the country today.
Islam, born Stephen Georgiou, took Cat Stevens as a stage name and had hits in the 1960s and '70s, including "Wild World" and "Morning Has Broken."