Former North Carolina police chief detained at JFK airport

Cheryl Sanders
March 20, 2017

He spent 26 years serving on the police force in Alexandria, Virginia, and most recently served as the chief of police in Greenville, North Carolina.

Aden, a United States citizen of 42 years, was visiting his mother in Paris for her 80th birthday and flying back to the states when he was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection when he landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in NY on March 13.

Upon his arrival in New York, Aden, a U.S. citizen and retired career police man, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers called him aside and proceeded to take him to a back room. This time was different, however. A customs officer told him that his name had been used as an alias by someone on a watch list. While his documents were sent to another agency to be processed, he saw some 25 foreign nationals brought in and released. What I question here is essentially their policies and what they view as a reasonable detention.

In total, he was detained for about an hour and a half.


"I asked several times, 'how long of a detention do you consider to be reasonable?', the answer I was given by CBP Officer Chow was that I was not being detained-he said that with a straight face". "I certainly was not free to leave", he said.

Aden, who uses TSA PreCheck, sailed through security and made his afternoon flight to D.C., he said.

After complaining, Aden was told that he was not being detained. The official asked if Aden was travelling alone and then said, "Let's take a walk". "I interface with high level U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Court officials nearly daily", he wrote. "And I fully appreciate the difficulty of their job and the dangers of their job". Hassan's story is receiving a great deal of attention due to his career as a high profile USA law enforcement officer as well as because of his impassioned reporting of the story in a widely-shared Facebook post. "The clock is ticking".

Aden, who has a Somali father and an Italian mother, said what happened with him "can happen to anyone with attributes that can be 'profiled'". "No one is safe from this type of unlawful government intrusion".


He added: 'This experience has left me feeling vulnerable and unsure of the future of a country that was once great and that I proudly called my own. My freedoms were restricted, and I can not be sure it won't happen again, and that it won't happen to my family, my children, the next time we travel overseas.

Aden said that he was not allowed to leave or contact his family at the same time an official told him he wasn't being detained.

They further stressed the agency's commitment to nondiscrimination practices, including a focus on race, color, age, sexual orientation, religion, sex, national origin, or disability, as well as union membership or union activities.

"As I continued to sit in the CBP makeshift Detention Center, watching numerous foreign nationals enter my country while I couldn't, I began thinking about my numerous trips overseas -including five in the past year (all prior to inauguration) - with no problems upon my return and complete with the warm greeting of 'Welcome home, '" Aden continued.


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