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U.S. diverts plane because Cat Stevens on board

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, was taken off a diverted United Air Lines flight from London to Washington after his Muslim name turned up on a "watch list" designed to keep terrorists from boarding flights, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman has said.

The 56-year-old Islam took that name when he became a Muslim in the 1970s.

An FBI spokeswoman told CNN the singer's name was only matched to the watch list after the plane had departed.

Islam, a British citizen, was being held in Bangor, Maine after Flight 919 was ordered to land there Tuesday afternoon.

He will be deported back to London on Wednesday, according to the TSA.

A government official said Islam was on the watch list because of "known associations and financial support to organizations believed to be aiding terrorism."

According to U.S. officials, he is an active supporter of Muslim charities.

One administration official said the singer had been in the United States as recently as May, and was a recent addition to the list.

The rest of the passengers were screened and continued on to Washington's Dulles International Airport after Islam was taken off the flight.

"They said, Get ready to land,' and then they said 'Welcome to Bangor.' And we though they were joking," one woman passenger said.

"We had no idea we'd been diverted."

The Boeing 747 had about 280 passengers and crew on board when it took off from London's Heathrow Airport, United Air Lines spokesman Jeff Green said.

The plane was met by federal agents on arrival in Bangor, where it was on the ground for about four hours before being allowed to depart, Green said.

It landed at Dulles nearly six hours behind schedule.

According to a TSA spokesman, Islam made it through pre-screening by United Air Lines and was given a boarding pass.

But after the flight took off, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency discovered his name was on a watch list.

The TSA was notified and requested that the plane be diverted to the nearest airport.

As Cat Stevens, Islam had a string of folk-rock hits in the 1960s and early 1970s, including "Peace Train," "Morning has Broken" and "Wild World."

He dropped out of the music business for more than a decade after converting to Islam, but returned to the recording studio periodically during the 1990s.

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I remember when he called for the murder of Salman Rushdie after the "Satanic Verses" was published. So much for the peace train...

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