Somali-American reporter treated differently at ISIS trial

MPR reporter Mukhtar Ibrahim thinks the security people at federal court know who he is. And why wouldn’t they? For more than a year, he’s been covering the case of local men charged with plotting to join ISIS in Syria.

But he was prevented from entering the courtroom with the rest of the media yesterday, the day jury selection began in the latest case.

A white reporter was allowed through security and into the courtroom, but Ibrahim was stopped and told to wait with the rest of the public. His press credentials did no good.

Ibrahim didn’t argue; he waited until the courtroom was open to the public, then covered the day’s events.

“They know who I am, they see me every day,” Ibrahim tells City Pages. “I’m not a stranger coming to cover this case from the East Coast. I’ve been covering this case since day one. They know I’m a reporter.”

Why was he treated differently than other reporters?

“I like to stick to the facts,” Ibrahim told City Pages, “so I’ll let people make their own conclusions of this.”

Ibrahim, who is the first Somali-American reporter to work at a major news outlet in the state, was awarded a Bush fellowship earlier this year. He’ll complete a master’s program at Columbia.

  • I’m shocked, shocked that a brown person with a “funny” name was singled out by security…

  • PaulJ

    So some cop looked at his press pass and said, this is no good? I hate to harp, but that really needs to be explained.

    • I’m going to go with Captain Reanult’s take on this: Brown skin, “funny” name (even though the reporter has been covering these stories for a very long time.)

  • Mike Worcester

    I’m with PaulJ on this one — I’d like to know why security ignored what one should presume were legit credentials on the part of the reporter.

    • jon

      I’d like to know why he was kept out with the rest of the press, but allowed in with the general public.

      Seems like if he was a risk when he was with the press he’d be the same risk with the general public.

  • joetron2030

    Same with the mother of one of the defendants as heard this morning during Morning Edition. She was in one of the sessions, left to take one of her younger children to the restroom, and when she attempted to return was prevented from doing so.

  • Rob

    why didn’t the reporter ask the security staff why he was being excluded? wouldn’t that be a natural curiosity/journalism 101 thing?

    • He pursued it with the U.S. marshall in charge of security and there is presently no additional information to provide pending the investigation.

      You’re making a huge mistake, though, if you’re framing your question with a not-too-veiled insult against the reporter.

      He handled it professionally and capably which, while not fully entertaining to the online crowd, is exactly how it should have been handled.

      • Mike Worcester

        I will be quite curious to hear what — if any — response is offered regarding Mr. Ibrahim’s treatment. Hopefully it will be something more substantial than ‘the guard followed proper procedure’ or similar tripe.