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DHS gives Somali Muslims tour of airport’s secure areas after harassment & profile complaints

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Somali Muslims who complained to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about feeling harassed and profiled were given an unprecedented behind-the-scenes tour of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

That’s according to the government watchdog group Judicial Watch, which claims that on at least two occasions “federal authorities granted the unprecedented excursions of the facility’s sterile and secure areas.”

Minnesota has a large Somali population and is home to a number of people who’ve gone to fight for the Islamic State.

The Obama administration arranged the “special security tours not offered to any other group” as part of local meetings held to obtain feedback for “modifications to practices that would allow for operations to be more culturally sensitive,” according to records obtained by Judicial Watch.

The effort was organized by Abdirizak Farah, who is identified in the records as a policy adviser in the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Judicial Watch reported that Farah was hired in 2010 with an annual salary of $89,033 and by 2015 was making $130,453 a year.

According to TSA records, Customs and Border Protection conducted the tours that gave the Muslim participants “an in-depth, on-site tour and discussion of CBP’s airport, including both inbound and outbound passenger processing.”

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is a joint military-civilian airport situated approximately 10 miles from downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. It is the largest and busiest airport in the upper Midwest and the 17th busiest in the nation.

As for the military connection, the facility is home to the 934th Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit, and the 133rd Airlift Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard. Both units fly the C-130 Hercules.

Andrew Rhoades, the TSA’s “Somali liaison officer” in Minneapolis — who knew? — told Judicial Watch the tours were set up after Somali Muslims complained to Johnson that they felt “harassed and profiled” by CBP agents. Rhoades claimed Johnson had “a sympathetic ear to that.”

He also stressed that no other group has been granted such airport access by DHS, saying “we’ve never done that.”

Tom Tillison

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