The FBI raided three money-transfer shops in the Somali community here last night, apparently as part of an investigation into connections to terrorism. As many as 20 men have gone missing from the local immigrant community, and one conducted a suicide bombing last November. The FBI wants to know what happened to them, and maybe they’ve decided to follow the money (via Michelle):
Federal agents raided three Minneapolis money transfer businesses that mainly serve the Somali community Wednesday, seeking records of financial transactions to several African and Middle East countries. …
The businesses are Qaran Express and Aaran Financial, both in the Karmel Mall, near W. Lake Street and Pillsbury Avenue S., and North American Money Transfer Inc., also known as Mustaqbal Express, at the Village Market Mall, at E. 24th Street and Chicago Avenue S.
While it’s not clear that the raid was directly connected to a continuing federal investigation into the possible link between terrorist groups and the disappearances of seven to 20 young Somali men in the Twin Cities over the past two years, it appears to be part of an effort since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to crack down on financial connections to terrorist networks and operations overseas.
The federal government had shut these businesses down before, just after 9/11. The government never indicted them for providing support to terrorists, and eventually they went back to business, facilitating transfers of cash between immigrants here and family members back in Somali and other nations. With the sudden disappearance of young men, most if not all of whom attended the same mosque, the FBI has taken an interest again in these cash-transfer companies to see whether they can track the men, and the cash, to terrorist networks.
An advocate from the Somali Justice Advocacy Center advised local immigrants not to panic, and that they had been vindicated before. I’d say they need to worry more about the Abubakar Islamic Center and what happened to almost two dozen of their young men than about how to send cash back to Somalia at this point.