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Feds questioning man on no-fly list who was aboard diverted flight

By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN

Washington (CNN) -- A Somali man on board a plane that was diverted to Montreal, Canada, on Sunday amid fears that he presented a threat to the United States is being questioned by U.S. authorities, officials said Tuesday.

Canadian officials turned over Abdirahman Ali Gaal to U.S. authorities at the Champlain, New York, border crossing on Tuesday afternoon, U.S. officials said.

Gaal, described as a legal resident of the United States, was on an Aeromexico flight from Paris, France, to Mexico City on Sunday when U.S. authorities refused permission for the plane to overfly the United States. The officials said Gaal's name appeared on the no-fly list, a government list of about 6,000 people not permitted to fly in the United States.

Canada handed Gaal over to the United States because it does not have a deportation agreement with Somalia, according to the U.S officials.

On Monday, a U.S. Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman described Gaal as a "person of interest," but officials have declined to elaborate on the reason for that designation.

The incident is likely to raise questions about screening procedures involving the no-fly list in foreign airports. Currently, airlines operating at overseas airports often transmit passenger lists to U.S. authorities only after the flight has departed.

In this case, U.S. authorities spotted Gaal's name on the passenger manifest and refused permission for the flight to enter U.S. airspace.

In a brief statement Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matthew Chandler said Gaal "was returned to the United States where he is currently being questioned by DHS."