NEWARK, N.J. – An Egyptian-born aviation security expert is suing the U.S. government, claiming he was wrongly suspended from his Transportation Security Administration job based on a classified FBI file the government won't let him see.
Wagih H. Makky filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Newark, alleging he was harassed and discriminated against at work after the Sept. 11 terror attacks based on his nationality and his Muslim religion.
The lawsuit claims Makky is one of the world's leading experts in designing and evaluating technology to prevent explosives from being smuggled onto airplanes and rail cars. Makky, 55, a U.S. citizen, most recently worked at the TSA aviation center outside Atlantic City.
Following the Pan Am jet bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, Makky was chosen to create a Federal Aviation Administration unit to focus government efforts to prevent terrorist attacks on American airliners.
According to the lawsuit, a new supervisor in 2002 asked Makky during their first meeting about his ethnic background. When the U.S. invasion of Iraq began in March 2003, the supervisor placed him on administrative leave, based on the classified file, according to the lawsuit.
In August 2005, Makky was suspended without pay, and remains suspended.
The lawsuit names the Department of Homeland Security among others as defendants. The lawsuit did not specify damages. A Homeland Security spokesman did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Makky could not be reached for comment Thursday.