Members of the Vermont Air National Guard will return to the Green Mountain State, after serving three months in the Middle East, according to a press release. Guard officials did not give a specific date, but said members would return at the end of February. When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Captain Tracy Morris, spokesperson for the Air Guard, said the mission went smoothly, and there were no reported injuries. Morris said for safety and security reasons, she could not release if the airmen were flying directly home.
While overseas, members helped with air-to-ground attacks, guard officials said.
- ^ deployed (www.mychamplainvalley.com)
- ^ Vermont Air National Guard Prepares for Deployment (www.mychamplainvalley.com)
- ^ Vermont Air National Guard Gets Deployment Orders (www.mychamplainvalley.com)
- ^ Vermont Air National Guard Members to Deploy: What s Next? (www.mychamplainvalley.com)
- ^ Vermont Air National Guard Deploys Overseas to Fight ISIS (www.mychamplainvalley.com)
- ^ Vermont s Congressional Delegation Reacts to Air Guard s Deployment (www.mychamplainvalley.com)
The Department of Homeland Security gave tours of at least three major airports to Somali immigrants, who walked through facilities including secure areas not open to the press or the public, according to documents uncovered by a conservative watchdog. Judicial Watch on Thursday released 31 pages of emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request related to the so-called community engagement tour at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in February. The tours also took place at airports in Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio.
Logically, information that is too sensitive to provide to Judicial Watch and the public should not have been given to a community engagement tour.’
The information provided to the Somali immigrant groups was so sensitive that the government blacked out portions of the documents it handed over to Judicial Watch, citing a law enforcement risk circumvention exception to FOIA.
Logically, information that is too sensitive to provide to Judicial Watch and the public should not have been given to a community engagement tour,’ Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a prepared statement. The U.S. government has been aware for years that Minnesota is a hotbed of Somali terrorist-cell activity. The behind-the-scenes tours and security briefings of the Minneapolis airport very well could have created a threat to public safety. Ian Smith, investigative associate from the Immigration Reform Law Institute, expressed incredulity that the federal government would offer such tours to Somali refugees.
It seems like the opposite group that should be getting them, he told LifeZette. It must be some sort of silly, PC outreach.
Customs and Border Protection officials did not immediately respond to questions from LifeZette, but the documents released by Judicial Watch indicate that authorities vetted people whom they allowed into secure areas. One email indicates that authorities rejected two people who did not pass the security review the previous year. Another email from a Customs and Border Protection official mentioned a man who gave Chicago CBP a hard time after attending the last outreach event guessing they might bring it up so whoever is going to be there might want to read over information that was redacted in the copy released to Judicial Watch.
Those invited received briefings of the Global Entry system, the automated passport control system, secondary screening procedures and baggage-screening procedures. They also got tours of holding cells and interview rooms, according to the documents.
“Current CBP and TSA job vacancies were discussed,” notes from the Minneapolis airport tour stated. “Attendees responded with requests for DHS outreach efforts during Somali community events to further advertise these positions to interested individuals.”
Customs and Border Protection officials set up a tour of the Minneapolis airport in 2014 after a Somali Muslim group complained to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about feeling harassed and profiled. According to records released several months ago by Judicial Watch, government officials offered the tours in order to seek feedback about “modifications to practices that would allow for operations to be more culturally sensitive.”
An invitation sent to participants promised a “step-by-step tour of our operations, designed to offer a greater understanding of airport processes and procedures.” Officials scheduled the tour in Minnesota around Muslim prayer times. A number of Somali refugees have been implicated in terrorism-related criminal cases in the United States, including Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, who worked as a baggage handler at the Minnesota airport and bragged about building rockets that could strike planes as they landed, according to court records.
He pleaded guilty in February to trying to help the Islamic State terrorist group, and a federal judge in November sentenced him to 30 months in prison.
CNN reported that another Somali man, accused war criminal Yusuf Abdi Ali, was working as a security officer at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. CNN reported that he is one of more than 1,000 accused war criminals living in the United States. He allegedly committed atrocities while he was a military commander during Somalia’s civil war in the 1980s.
- Judicial Watch
Mr. Alimad said that Mr. Aden, who was in his early 20s, had immigrated to the United States as a toddler and grew up in St. Cloud. He said Mr. Aden excelled in school, had been working part time as a security guard, and was not especially religious, though also not an atheist.
We need to get to the bottom of this, he added. We need to know what triggered this kid.
The Star Tribune reported that Mr. Aden lived with his father in an apartment in St. Cloud. The father said his son was born in Kenya, where many Somalis have fled to escape the long-running civil war in their country.
Mr. Aden worked for a global security firm, Securitas, according to Eloise Hale, a spokeswoman for Electrolux, the appliance maker. She said that for a few months ending in June, Securitas had assigned Mr. Aden to work as a weekend guard at an Electrolux facility in St. Cloud.
He had taken classes through the spring term at St. Cloud State University, intending to major in information systems, the university said, but he was not enrolled in the fall term. Local news outlets reported that he had graduated from a public high school in St. Cloud.
Mr. Alimad said he was told that Mr. Aden returned home from work on Saturday, and said he was going to the mall to buy a new iPhone.
After stabbing seven men and two women, he was fatally shot by Jason Falconer, an off-duty, part-time police officer in Avon, a nearby small town.
He s a firearms instructor for the city of Avon, said Corey Nellis, Avon s police chief. He s a competitive shooter. If I was going to ask anybody to fire live rounds in a crowded mall, I would trust his abilities next to anybody s.
Officer Faulkner put himself in harm s way to protect the public from a man who had already stabbed nine people and would have very likely harmed more people had Officer Faulkner not acted so quickly and decisively, he said.
Chief Nellis said that Mr. Falconer, a former police chief in another nearby town, Albany, works only an occasional shift for his department; in fact, he was not scheduled to work over the next two months.
Minnesota is home to about 25,000 Somalis, the largest concentration in the United States. Some have flocked in recent years to St. Cloud, a small city northwest of the Twin Cities, in search of safety and jobs, and have mostly been welcomed, Mr. Alimad said. But he said there had been some tensions, and now there is fear of a backlash from the attack.
We are really fearful, he said. Kids are afraid. Women are afraid to go to shop. And this is happening in the land of the free.
Mayor Dave Kleis of St. Cloud said Monday that all nine stabbing victims had been released from the hospital.
Chief William Blair Anderson of the St. Cloud police said Monday that investigators had so far discovered no ties to terrorist groups after executing search warrants, but stressed that the investigation was in its beginning stages.
I want to know everything about this individual since the day he was born until last Saturday, Chief Anderson said.
Chief Anderson said he had met with leaders in the local East African community, and said his department was working to make sure everyone felt safe.
What I know about St. Cloud is this: No matter who fear-mongers, yells racial epithets or has myopic ideas about people who are different somehow, it is not representative of this community at large, Chief Anderson said.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who also spoke at the news conference, urged reconciliation.
I implore citizens of St. Cloud and really citizens throughout Minnesota to rise above this tragic incident and to remember our common humanity, our shared citizenship, and our shared desires to live together peacefully, Mr. Dayton said.
Governor Dayton has long been an outspoken advocate for immigrants in Minnesota. Speaking last fall to a gathering at the St. Cloud N.A.A.C.P., the governor urged residents to stand up to unacceptable, un-Minnesotan, illegal and immoral behavior, according to a news report at the time.
If you are that intolerant, if you are that much of a racist or a bigot, then find another state, the governor said, according to the report. Find a state where the minority population is 1 percent or whatever. It s not that in Minnesota. It s not going to be again.
On Monday, the police took into custody the man they believed to be behind the bombings in New York and New Jersey, Ahmad Khan Rahami, after he was wounded by gunfire in an encounter with the police, according to law enforcement officials. Hours before Mr. Rahami s name was released, five pipe bombs were found in a backpack in Elizabeth, N.J.