Aida Alic claims that she was prevented from boarding a flight from Geneva to New York because her name, when pronounced backwards, sounds like al-Qaeda.
Aida Alic claims that she was prevented from boarding a flight from Geneva to New York because her name, when pronounced backwards, sounds like al-Qaeda.Reuters

A French woman was reportedly added to the US no-fly list and prevented from boarding a New York-bound flight because her name, when pronounced backwards as it appears on her passport, sounds like al-Qaeda.

Aida Alic, 33, was prevented from boarding the flight from Geneva Airport by Swiss Airline staff, who told her that US border authorities had barred her entry into the US. She was not given a reason why.

Alic was forced to cancel her US holiday with her husband and children, forfeiting airline tickets worth €2,700 (£2,223).

After returning to her home near Chambery in the French Alps, Alic searched official US travel sites to find out why she had been prevented from travelling.

She has come to the conclusion that it was because of her name, which sounds like the militant Islamist terrorist organisation when pronounced with her surname first.

"Alic Aida, al-Qaeda - when friends make the play on words to wind me up, I am used to it, but not this," she told French newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré.

"Especially since my name is actually pronounced 'Alitch'. It is of [the] Yugoslav origin. And now here I am labelled as a risk."

Alic, who was born in Bosnia, said she plans to continue with her enquiries with the US authorities to find out why she was banned from entering the US.

The US embassy in Paris said it does not comment on individual cases of people placed on the US no-fly list.

The no-fly list is maintained by the US government's Terrorist Screening Center and the number of names on the list rises and falls according to intelligence reporting.

Criteria for inclusion on the list is unclear and several people have won lawsuits against the US government to have their names removed from the list. In 2012, it was reported that there were at least 21,000 names on the list.