The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has apologized to a Muslim traveler strip-searched at the Pinellas County Jail after being detained at Tampa International Airport in April.

Federal agents said they denied Spanish citizen Safana Jawad entry to the United States on April 11 because she was suspected of being associated with someone they view as suspicious.

Jawad, 45, was taken to the jail, strip-searched according to protocol and held in a maximum security cell for two days. She was never told the identity of the suspicious person.

Jawad, who was born in Iraq, had flown to the United States to visit her son, Hany Kubba, 16, who then lived in Clearwater with her ex-husband, Ahmad Maki Kubba.

Jawad was deported to England on April 13 and has since filed a complaint with the Homeland Security Department about being mistreated by customs officials as well as staff at the Pinellas County Jail. . .

Ahmad Bedier, director of the Tampa branch of the Council for American-Islamic Relations, spoke with Jawad at the jail after the arrest. He has kept in touch with the family since then.

Bedier said the apology from the Homeland Security Department is a step in the right direction, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

In the next two weeks, Bedier said thousands of Muslims will be returning to central Florida from their annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Today Bedier plans to meet at Tampa International Airport with officials from the FBI, airport, Customs and Border Protection, and the Transportation Security Administration to discuss measures to prevent unnecessary profiling of Muslim travelers as they return from Saudi Arabia.

“I am concerned about their treatment when they return,” Bedier said.


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