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Report: Minn. TSA Manager Says He Was Asked To Target Somalis

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A TSA manager at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport says his supervisor told him to report the names of local Somali leaders coming to him for help, so that they could be checked against a database for terror ties, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Andrew Rhoades, an assistant federal security director at the Twin Cities airport, reported to higher TSA officials saying that a supervisor, David McMahon, asked him during a performance evaluation to give the names of potential visitors to a field intelligence officer. Rhoades often works with people from the metro's large Somali population.

"I have never been asked to give the names of anyone else who visited the office to the intelligence officer," Rhoades told the paper.

Rhoades considered the supervisor's advice to be racial profiling and reported it to the TSA's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. He also spoke with Minnesota lawmakers and the Office of Special Counsel, which protects whistleblowers in the federal government.

Following the revelation, members of the local Somali community accused airport authorities of profiling, and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, called for an investigation into the TSA, the Times reported.

The Somali Human Rights Commission also called for the top TSA official at the Twin Cities airport, Cliff Vanleuven, to resign. In a statement, the group said his stepping down will be a way in which the government can restore trust with the community.

Recently, federal and local authorities have sought to work with the state's Somali population, which is being heavily targeted by jihadist groups like the Islamic State in Syria and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

In the last month, two young men have pleaded guilty to trying to join ISIS. Three other young suspects are slated to go on trial for allegedly trying to fly to Syria and fight with the terror group.

Currently, millions of dollars are being spent to curb terror recruiting in Minnesota.

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