A brother of three men indicted last month on federal sex trafficking charges provided one of them access to restricted areas at the Nashville International Airport including in the cockpit of a plane.
The information came out during a hearing regarding the federal detention of Abdifatah Sharif Omar and Mohamed Sharif Omar Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Nashville.
The two, along with brother Liban Sharif Omar, are three of the 29 individuals — mostly from Minneapolis and Nashville — indicted in November on federal charges of sex trafficking involving juvenile girls.
The three men’s brother, Abdirahman Sharif Omar, was called to testify at the hearing to determine if he could serve as a third-party custodian for Abdifatah and Mohamed Omar if they are released from jail prior to their trial. The indicted men would have to wear electronic monitoring equipment if released.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Van Vincent grilled Abdirahman Omar, an employee for Embraer Aircraft Maintenance Services at Nashville International Airport, about photos found on his PDA and showing Liban Omar in a restricted access mechanical area.
Abdirahman Omar had badge access to the area though he did not have clearance to escort others into the area and did not sign in his brother per company rules when the photos were taken in May and June 2009.
The photos of Liban Omar showed planes from Air Mexico, Regional Express and Delta in the background. One photo showed him in the cockpit of a plane with power to its instrument panel.
Abdirahman Omar testified that he could not remember who gave him permission to take his brother into the restricted area or who even took all of the photos.
Vincent asked Abdirahman Omar if he was aware of the company rule of signing in guests, to which he replied he was but that other Embraer employees had also brought guests in — though he could not name others who may or may not have violated company rules.
On the witness stand, Embraer Human Resource Manager Steve Moldrem told Vincent that Abdirahman Omar did not have security escort privileges and there was no indication he signed in his brother as a visitor.
Moldrem, who began work at Embraer about six months ago (after the photos were taken), said photos were not allowed in restricted areas without permission from the company’s senior leadership, and guest access to cockpits of customers’ planes was never allowed.
Embraer officials could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday evening.
A magistrate previously ordered Abdifatah Omar and Mohamed Omar to be released while they await trial. The U.S. appealed that decision, which led in part to Thursday’s hearing.
U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes took the matter under advisement following the testimony.