Abdirahmaan Muhumed is one of two Americans killed in Iraq, while fighting for ISIS. We've seen Americans join the terrorist ranks before with Al Qaeda, but this one hits a little too close to home — Muhumed was employed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, as an aircraft cleaner.
Fox affiliate KMSP discovered that the deceased ISIS member was at one point employed by Delta Global Services, (DGS) a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. DGS is hired by several airlines to clean planes and handle ground services such as loading bags and freight. You can see the potential danger here. As an aircraft cleaner, Muhumed had access to secure areas within the airport, and of course on board planes.
We don't know from the report when Muhumed worked for DGS, nor for how long, and we haven't seen any evidence that he worked from them recently so it's not as if there's an immediate threat.
Even if he currently worked at an airport would there be, realistically, any risk?
First, it's important to note that there are safety measures in place. Everyone who works at the airport goes through a background check, whether they fly planes or sell magazines at Hudson News. Although even if someone has a fairly clean criminal history, their phone records and internet usage are not searched. If someone had ties to a terrorist organization, the only time a red flag would pop up is if their name matched a list of potential bad guys.
Once someone passes a background check, they're given the appropriate level of security access, based on their job. Anyone who works around planes gets AOA (Aircraft Operations Access) clearance. Once you have AOA clearance, you still go through security checkpoints every time you come to work. But it's not impossible to sneak things through. Most airports have employee lines, aside from the TSA checkpoint that travelers go through. You scan your badge, and have your fingerprint scanned to make sure the right person is entering the area. Then you might have your bag checked, but if the inspector is checking someone else, you breeze right on through. Some airline employees were arrested in San Diego earlier this year, for bringing drugs through the employee screening line, where they would then pass them off to a "mule" who was boarding a plane.
What could an employee sneak onto a plane? Anything, really. All it would take is a well-timed pass through the security checkpoint. There's one more level of security, however. When a plane sits at an airport overnight, the airline is supposed to do a full aircraft search before the plane goes out the next morning. The search would include overhead bins, seatback pockets, lavatory compartments, cargo bins, wheel wells and all other access panels. If the person doing the searching was feeling lazy that day, or was perhaps working with the smuggler, a dangerous item could be easily planted on the plane.
While there's absolutely no evidence ISIS recruited Muhumed based on his employment and security clearance, the potential implications are obvious and unsettling.