Yusuf Islam—formerly known as singer/songwriter Cat Stevens—was detained by federal officials Tues. after his name showed up on a U.S. terrorist watch list.
A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration confirmed that Islam, 56, was onboard United Airlines Flight 919 traveling from London to Dulles International Airport in Washington when the match was made with the list.
Federal officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the passenger as Islam.
According to one official, the TSA was contacted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center after Islam was identified by the Advanced Passenger Information System, which requires airlines to submit their passenger information. After confirming the information, the TSA requested that the plane land at the nearest airport.
The flight was subsequently diverted to Maine’s Bangor International Airport, where it was met by federal agents around 3 p.m.
“He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds,'' Homeland Security spokesman Dennis Murphy told the Associated Press. He added that Islam would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wed.
Born Stephen Georgiou, Islam took Cat Stevens as a stage name and had a string of hits in the 1960s and '70s, including “Wild World,'' “Peace Train” and “Morning Has Broken.'' In the late 1970s, he was persuaded by orthodox Muslim teachers that his lifestyle was forbidden by Islamic law. As a result, he abandoned his successful music career and changed his name. Islam later became a teacher and an advocate for his religion, founding a Muslim school in London in 1983.
In 2003, he released two songs, including a re-recording of “Peace Train,'' to express his opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.