Feds will investigate airport security official's claim of Somali-American profiling


A federal agency has opened an investigation after a Minneapolis airport security official testified he was told to profile Somali-Americans.

The Office of Inspector General with the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday it will look into the claims that a supervisor "advised [the official] to treat members of the Somali community differently" than other people who visit the Transportation Security Administration office there.

Where is this coming from?

Just last week, TSA assistant security director Andrew Rhoades, who works at the Minneapolis office, testified that his bosses told him to profile Somali imams and community members that had come to his office.

Reaction to the testimony

That quickly led to calls for an investigation, including from Sen. Al Franken, who in a letter said racial and ethnic profiling "undermines trust in the authorities and causes resentment among targeted groups."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota also asked for a probe, calling the claims "extremely troubling."

On Thursday, the organization (which is the largest Islamic civil liberties group in the U.S.) applauded Homeland Security's decision.

"We welcome this investigation and hope it results in the accountability and transparency needed to rebuild trust in the Minnesota TSA," said the group's Executive Director Jaylani Hussein in a news release. "Racial and religious profiling is unconstitutional, immoral, ineffective, and undermines the core principals of our democracy."

After the investigation, the Homeland Security news release said they will publish a full report "as appropriate." They're also encouraging anyone with similar stories about profiling or abuse to contact the Office of Inspector General hotline.

According to the New York Times, the TSA said it does not support racial profiling, and is reviewing the complaint (though also said it’d be unfair to paint the entire agency based on one possible interaction with an employee and supervisor).

Somali-Americans in Minnesota

Minnesota Compass says about 23,000 Somalis live in Minnesota, many of them in the Twin Cities area. That metro area is home to the largest Somali population in the United States, U.S. News and World Report said.

Terrorism recruiting within the community has been an issue for both law enforcement and the leaders within it.

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