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SoCal family divided by Egypt conflict

February 7, 2011 6:08:41 PM PST
The crisis in Egypt has left a Southern California family divided. A Mission Viejo woman was trying to return to the U.S. when she ran into problems with the Transportation Security Administration's No Fly List. She was forced to leave her young daughter behind in Cairo.

Samaa Kerba and her 4-year-old son Farias are safely back in Southern California, but their nightmare continues. Kerba's 15-month-old daughter remains in Egypt with Kerba's mother after not being allowed on the plane in Cairo.

"The man told me, 'You cannot take her with you.' I was very shocked because I had so much hope," said Kerba.

Kerba's problems only got worse in Amsterdam, she says that despite being searched and interrogated for four hours she was told she would not be allowed to fly back to the U.S. and the government wouldn't tell her why.

Kerba's attorney with the ACLU says it is because she has been put on the No Fly List. But after filing an emergency request with a federal judge, she and her son were allowed to return Saturday night.

"It seems to me that if you can allow them to get on a plane that proves that they don't have to be on a No Fly List and when you add in that it is Egypt and that you have small children involved it seems very clear that the government should allow her to go get her baby and bring her back," said attorney Ahilan Arulanantham.

"I think this will get better with time, by getting to know me, getting to know my family, by knowing everything about me, but it is getting worse," said Kerba. "I just don't get it, what did I do?"

Kerba's estranged husband died three months ago after he had moved to Somalia to further his religious education. She thinks she is on the No Fly List because of him. With all of the civil unrest in Egypt she wanted to leave Cairo but she had to leave her daughter behind because her green card required her to return.

"It is not describable," said Kerba. "It is really very, very hard. She lost her father and now she is losing her mother, like, I am not with her. I need my kids to be with me, I need an easier life. Not only do I need a job, I need to support these kids, I need to think about my future, like what should I do now?"

The FBI Terrorist Screening Center doesn't comment on anyone who is on the No Fly List.

Kerba just hopes soon she will be off the list so she can go get her daughter.