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CAIR-LA Files Complaint Against TSA Over Profiling, Excessive Force Against Pakistani-American Muslim

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 11/20/2018) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today filed a complaint with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regarding the profiling and use of unreasonable and excessive force against Saquib Usman at Los Angeles International Airport.

Usman was traveling with his wife, returning to their home in Baltimore on Sept. 24, 2018, after visiting Los Angeles. While going through TSA security screening, Usman was reportedly selected by TSA agents for additional screening. This screening involved opening his bags, in which Usman, an anthropologist, had several books — including the Quran — related to his Muslim faith and books in Arabic and about Muslim societies and cultures.

Despite having already passed through a full body scanner, Usman was ordered to undergo a secondary pat down. A TSA agent issued an inappropriately forceful and invasive pat down, fondling and jabbing of Usman in his sensitive and private areas, causing him physical pain, humiliation and great emotional distress.  

“I felt completely violated and was made physically ill by the pat down. It was done with an intent to humiliate me and the agent conducting it was grinning and mocking my discomfort,” Usman said. “I have no doubt that they were targeting me for abuse because I am dark brown, of Pakistani descent and Muslim. I have always known discrimination by TSA was possible, but this dehumanizing experience confirmed all of my worst fears.”

“CAIR-LA and other civil rights organizations have received an influx of complaints about inappropriate touching by TSA agents, including groping, during which a search is accomplished in a manner that seems devised to humiliate the traveler,” said CAIR-LA Civil Rights Attorney Patricia Shnell. “TSA must be held accountable for its targeting of innocent travelers, so that all individuals can feel safe proceeding through airport security.”

SEE: Know Your Rights in Various Situations

According to the TSA, the number of complaints against the agency is on the rise, the agency self-reported an 8 percent increase in complaints received from 2016 to 2017.

CAIR California (CAIR-CA) recorded an 8 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents in 2017 compared to 2016, as detailed in the 2018 CAIR-CA Civil Rights Report.

SEE: CAIR California’s Civil Rights Report 2018

Shnell urged community members to report any bias incidents to CAIR-LA’s Civil Rights Department at 714-776-1177 or by filing a report at

CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.





CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Eugene W. Fields, 714-776-1847 or

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