In wake of TSA manager's allegations, Somali leaders call for investigation

Updated May 3, 11:10 a.m. | Posted May 2, 5:18 p.m.

Minnesota Somali community leaders are demanding an independent and immediate investigation into allegations of profiling by the Transportation Security Administration.

In a press conference Monday at the Abubakar As-Saddique Mosque in Minneapolis, religious and other leaders urged the TSA to meet with the Muslim community to mend the damage done to their relationship. They also thanked TSA Assistant Federal Security Director Andrew Rhoades for coming forward.

Rhoades went public last week with allegations his supervisor told him in a performance review "to be mindful of those we interact with" after Rhoades met with St. Paul imam Hassan Mohamud.

The imam said in an interview Monday that he went to Rhoades after a member from the East African Oromo community, Nura Boru, came to him after Boru was stopped from flying to Ethiopia to visit his family.

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Rhoades told MPR News that he managed to resolve Boru's travel problem, which "mitigated the perception the government is not helping the East African community."

"He did a great job to help [Boru]," Mohamud said.

Some defense attorneys and prosecutors accused Mohamud of interfering with the cases of other defendants facing charges they conspired to join ISIS.

Rhoades' supervisor specifically mentioned Mohamud, who he said "has recently been removed from a defense team" of Mohamed Farah, a man facing charges of conspiring to join ISIS.

Mohamud said he was "surprised and shocked" to see his name mentioned in the performance review, a copy of which Rhoades provided to MPR News.

"If the government is going after the imams because they are helping the members of the community, that's absurd," said the imam, adding that he's also scrutinized when he's flying.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Muslim travelers had trusted the TSA to help resolve their travel issues.

"Now we are learning that they (travelers) are coming under a certain form of profiling because of their faith, because of their ethnicity," he said.

Hussein said CAIR is calling for the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General to launch an investigation into the matter.

Kassim Busuri, education director at the Minnesota Da'wah Institute in St. Paul, said "it's un-American to shun and blacklist imams and community activists who try to speak for the voiceless."

"We're American, we're not representing something else, we're Somali-Muslim America," he said. "It's only an American thing when Drew reported the violations of human rights against Somali-Americans."

Last week, the TSA said it was reviewing Rhoades' complaint and will take action if a TSA officer acted inappropriately. But the spokesperson aid it would be unfair to conclude that profiling is common based on a single interaction between an employee and his supervisor.