Muslim-American CEO uses burner devices to avoid intensive searches

Skift founder Rafat Ali is in London with a 'burner' phone and laptop so as not to be detained on his return to the US

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 04 April 2017 15:13
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Muslim-American CEO uses burner devices to avoid intensive searches

The CEO of a leading American travel media brand has told The Independent that he has not brought his phone and laptop for a trip to London, because of concerns about searches when he returns to the US.

Rafat Ali, founder and CEO of the travel intelligence provider, Skift, said he had instead bought “burner” devices — which do not carry his contacts and data.

Mr Ali is an American Muslim. He was born in Salford, Greater Manchester but now lives and works in New York City. He is in London for his firm’s conference, Skift Forum Europe.

Mr Ali told The Independent that, since the start of President Trump’s administration, Muslim travellers had faced difficulties with US Customs and Border Protection — with officials sometimes detaining new arrivals for hours while they trawl through phone and laptop data.

“I’m an American Muslim guy,” said Mr Ali. “Citizens are being stopped on their way back. For this trip I bought a ‘burner’ phone and a ‘burner’ laptop.”

"I left my laptop, I left my phone, and bought a new phone line, a new iTunes account, a new laptop.

“Anxiousness has just risen 10x in the last two months, three months.”

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on”.

One of the new president’s first acts was to issue a ban on travel from mainly Muslim countries, leading to many travellers being denied boarding flights to the US. The ban has faced repeated legal challenges.

Last month the US brought in a ban on electronic devices in the cabin of flights from eight mainly Muslim countries to American airports.

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