This past October, in the course of researching the article that became “The threat from ‘Minnesota men,'” I learned of an unnamed former airport employee and terrorist suspect who had been working “on the tarmac” in Minneapolis in 2014. I was advised by a source at one remove from the information that the suspect had luckily been discovered by a member of Minnesota’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (disclaimer: I still don’t know whether this aspect of the story is accurate).
I sought to confirm the story with senior management at the Metropolitan Airports Commission (the public authority that owns and runs the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and several others in the Twin Cities area). I was first told by a senior vice president that he couldn’t comment. Following up with him by email, I was told that he would have the MAC’s FBI liaison contact me. That never happened. I was also unable to elicit a comment from the FBI.
Pestering MAC management again, I was referred to the MAC airport police sergeant who works with the FBI on security issues. He told me that he knew of no such MAC employee and that he would know if there were one.
Unable to confirm any part of the story that had been confided to me, I let it rest there and wrote up the Weekly Standard article. In retrospect, however, I was on to something. The man in issue was Abdirizak Warsame, the tenth “Minnesota man” charged with seeking to join ISIS. Last week we learned at his probable cause hearing that Warsame had worked at the airport as a baggage handler in 2014. Among his hopes and dreams was the wish to take down an aircraft at 2,000 feet.
The details of the information I learned in October were off. Among other things, Warsame was not an employee of the MAC. He was an employee of third parties serving airlines at MSP. That may well have accounted for the responses I received as I sought to confirm the story in October. Other details of the story as originally conveyed to me may have been garbled or off as well. I don’t know.
But we know now that the heart of the story was true. Yesterday I revisited the subject with MAC representatives including management, counsel, police and, finally, MAC public affairs/marketing director Patrick Hogan. Given Warsame’s employment by a third party, I was told, the MAC had only “badging” information regarding Warsame — information regarding the security badge issued by the MAC to Warsame once he cleared screening by the TSA and other federal authorities. Here is Hogan’s message to me:
Abdirizak Warsame had a MSP security badge to work for Integrated Deicing from December 3, 2013 to April 8, 2014. He also had a badge when he worked for Swissport from April 29, 2014 to August 11, 2014. Both are private companies that contract with airlines to provide services to them. He was never employed by the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
In terms of your request for airport police data on Mr. Warsame, you will need to fill out the Information Disclosure Request Form located at the following link: http://www.mspairport.com/Airport-Police.aspx
(The link is on the right hand side of the page) Email the completed form to [email protected] No documents regarding Mr. Warsame have been released to the news media. To the best of my knowledge the only data we have on Mr. Warsame is badging data.
As I had been advised by the airport police yesterday, Hogan has separately confirmed this morning that the airport police have no data responsive to my request for information.
So it turns out that Warsame worked “on the tarmac” at MSP for two employers over a period of eight or nine months. By August 2014, the FBI investigation leading to the charges brought against the “Minnesota men” for seeking to join ISIS had gotten underway in earnest. The reason for the termination of Warsame’s employment in August 2014 is not publicly known; it remains one of the several loose ends deserving of attention in this troubling matter.