December 19, 2016 The U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted groups of Somalis access to secured areas in at least three major U.S. airports, according to newly released Customs and Border Protection (CBP) documents.
The CBP documents, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Judicial Watch revealed that Somali groups were given “community engagement tours” at airports in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Columbus, Ohio. The tours at all three of the known cities airports should raise concern. However, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is perhaps the most alarming. One document shows that in February, 2016, a Somali group toured the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), where the members were briefed on the Global Entry system, APC [Automated Passport Control] system, secondary screening procedures and baggage-screening procedures. The group also toured the airport’s holding cells/interview rooms. The Twin Cities is home to the Mall of America, the nation’s largest shopping mall and one of the top terrorist targets, according to risk based analysis by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2005.
Since 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has warned that Cedar-Riverside, a suburb of Minneapolis that is home to the largest population of Somalis in the country is a hotbed for the terrorist group. al-Shabaab. Since 2007, the FBI confirmed that dozens of Minnesotans joined al-Shabaab – the group best known for the 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed 67 people and injured hundreds more. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said intelligence linked the attack to Minneapolis Somalis. Members of the Minneapolis area Somali community have also joined the ranks of other terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State or ISIS. In October 2008, Shirwa Ahmed, 26, of Minneapolis became the first known American suicide bomber after he drove a car full of explosives into a government compound in northern Somalia.
In 2011, al Shabaab in Somalia formally joined the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Last month, the Obama administration expanded the legal scope of the war against Al Qaeda to include Somalia. On November 27, The New York Times reported the expansion would include al Shabab aka al-Shabaab in Somalia, as part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against al-Qaeda– the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."