Muslim, Arab and South Asian passengers are being profiled by Homeland Security officers at Kennedy Airport, civil liberties groups said Wednesday, citing a New Jersey family that was detained and interrogated after a flight from Dubai last week.

The family, a mother and her 20-year-old twin daughters from Montclair, N.J., said they were plucked from the baggage area, held six hours without food or water by Customs and Border Protection agents and questioned about their views of Iraq.

Nahgam Alyaqoubi and her daughters, Arwa and Sumia Ibrahim, naturalized American citizens, said 200 other passengers of Arab, Muslim or South Asian backgrounds were detained on Aug. 15 in a roped-off area, days after the London bomb suspects were arrested.

The family joined officials from the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups at a news conference in the Manhattan office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to condemn what they say has been an increase in racial profiling since the London plot was uncovered. They also criticized Rep. Peter King for what they said was profiling.

Arwa Ibrahim, who along with her sister is enrolled at Rutgers University, said they were born in Iraq and moved to the United States at age 5. She said the experience was disturbing because they were forced to sit on the floor without food or water and were treated rudely when they asked questions of the officers.

“It was a really humiliating experience — humiliating because we were treated like animals,” she said. “We were treated really horribly by the officers that were there, we were yelled at, we were told to get back, threatened with arrest and threatened to have to stay longer if we complained.”

The ACLU and other rights groups said they planned to investigate this and several other complaints of profiling.


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