The lawsuit, presented on Thursday before a federal court in Virginia, aims at challenging the US practice of placing entire Muslim families on terror watchlists on the basis of their faith or what they have said in the past.
The Muslim boy — known as Baby Doe and formally represented by his father — was only seven months old when, going through airport security checks, was found out to have been classified as a "known or suspected terrorist" according to the American Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). Therefore, he had to undergo extensive searches, including the examination of all his diapers.
Baby Doe's story epitomizes the reason why many Muslims think their constitutional rights are being violated by federal anti-terror measures.
The organization representing the 18 Muslim plaintiffs, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan Chapter (CAIR-MI), explained in a statement the rationale behind the complaint.
"The terrorism watch lists are premised on the false notion that the government can somehow accurately predict whether an innocent American citizen will commit a crime in the future based on religious affiliation or First Amendment activities [i.e. practising religion or exercising one's freedom of speech]. Our lawsuits challenge the wrongful designation of thousands upon thousands of American Muslims as known or suspected terrorists without due process."
Just in 2015, the government caved in to the requests of seven American citizens to be removed from the so-called 'no-fly list'. A federal court had previously ruled that the usual procedure for having one's name removed from the list, which prevents who is on it from boarding an aircraft for travel in or out of the United States, was unconstitutional and "wholly ineffective."