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Resident’s passport returned after delay

Dajani

– A part-time Fort Wayne resident who lives mostly overseas said Thursday his U.S. passport was reinstated after a 47-day wait.

Nader el-Dajani, a U.S. citizen with business interests in the Mideast, said he has been questioned or searched three times by airport security officers and put on a watch list because he declined to give details about his travel plans in 2012.

The U.S. Embassy in Bahrain kept Dajani’s passport when he tried to update it Feb. 27, according to an online story published Monday by the news organization Mother Jones.

A State Department official confirmed to The Journal Gazette that Dajani had applied for additional passport pages and his passport was returned to him Tuesday. The official said he had no information about what had taken so long.

Dajani said in an email that he believes the Mother Jones story and efforts on his behalf by the Council on American-Islamic Relations were responsible for the return of his passport.

He said his troubles apparently stemmed from a conversation with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security officer as Dajani was about to board a flight from London to Chicago in 2012.

The officer “asked a number of questions which I answered willingly until he asked me how long and why I am going to the US,” Dajani wrote to The Journal Gazette. “My response to this question was, ‘I am going home and I can stay as long as I want.’ He answered me, ‘But you work in Bahrain’ and my response was, ‘But I am going home.’ ”

Dajani had told Mother Jones that the security questions started because he was carrying multiple cellphones. He told The Journal Gazette that he typically carries four phones so he can be more accessible to business customers in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE.

“I guess customer care and understanding customer needs and me being proud of being an American and believing that I have the right to be home when I want and for as long as I want got me into trouble,” Dajani wrote.

Dajani owns and runs a company in Bahrain named JANADA, which does business in electronics, building materials and advertising. He is a former international marketing manager for the Fort Wayne operations of what is now ITT Exelis, which produces military communications equipment and weather satellite parts.

Dajani said he is enrolled in Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. The department’s website says TRIP is designed to help “legitimate travelers” who encounter problems trying to board airliners or cross U.S. borders. Dajani’s problems aren’t over. He said his residency status in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia expired while he waited for his passport. He said he hopes to resolve his Bahrain residency status next week.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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