Are refugees settled in the US funding terror overseas?

Daniel Horowitz · May 17, 2018
Are refugees settled in the US funding terror overseas?
Bet_Noire | Getty Images

When Theodore Sedgewick declared during the debate on the first naturalization law of Congress that our nation only wanted “reputable and worthy characters; such only were fit for the society into which they were blended,” he likely never envisioned some of the members of the Somali refugee population in Minneapolis. Not only has this community become a recruiting ground for radical Islam, it now appears to be bilking taxpayers with rampant welfare fraud.

Biting the hand that feeds them

Earlier this week, Fox 9, Minneapolis’ local Fox affiliate, released a bombshell expose showing how millions of dollars from taxpayer-funded day care programs were being stolen by local Somali refugees. Fox 9 worked with investigators to dig into a growing phenomenon of Islamic immigrants traveling from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with carry-on bags holding as much as $1 million in cash. Investigators found that much of this cash comes from individuals who are on government assistance. It is unclear where such individuals could obtain large sums of cash and why they would send the money overseas, but Fox 9 is investigating whether it is connected to an already established day care fraud scandal in the Somali community, in which adults would sign up children for day care who never attended the facility, thereby inflating the facilities’ numbers and the corresponding subsidies they collected.

Fox 9 obtained copies of the search warrants for some of the 10 day care facilities under investigation by the state – “most are owned by Somali immigrants.”

Sources in the Somali community told Fox 9 it is an open secret that starting a daycare center is a license to make money.

The fraud is so widespread they said, that people buy shares of daycare businesses to get a cut of the huge public subsidies that are pouring in.

It would be outrageous enough for a primarily refugee community to be defrauding taxpayers. But is the money also going to fund terrorism?

According to the report, “The state would pay a daycare’s bill and within hours of the money showing up in the business’s bank account, funds were being wired to the United Arab Emirates.”

More from the original Fox 9 report:

Those wire transfers stopped after a few centers were busted.

Which brings us back to those mysterious suitcases at Minneapolis-St. Paul International.

In 2015, investigators documented $14 million in carry on cash. By 2016, it had mushroomed to $84 million. Then last year, $100 million.

While this juxtaposition in itself doesn’t prove the day care fraud was part of the mystery of carry-on cash at airports, it raises serious concerns of terror funding that one would hope raises the interest of federal law enforcement.

In a follow-up article, Fox sat down with Scott Stillman, a former state Department of Human Services employee who spent eight years managing the state’s digital forensics lab. Stillman claims to have brought the issue of foreign transfers to the attention of upper management last March. Stillman said he warned top management, “Significant amount of these defrauded dollars are being sent overseas to countries and organizations connected to entities known to fund terrorists and terrorism.”

Remember, Minnesota has one of the most generous welfare systems, which is why refugee resettlement contractors originally brought 30,000 Somalis to Minnesota. There are now nearly 74,000 Somali speakers in the state. In total, we’ve admitted close to 145,000 Somalis nationwide since the Somali civil war erupted in the early ’90s.

This is a widespread problem

Fox 9 clearly believes its report is the tip of the iceberg of a phenomenon that is widespread in the region and possibly in other states. Time will tell whether the local media or law enforcement further connects the dots. The publicized evidence connecting the day care fraud with the funding of foreign terrorism is still tenuous, but this must be taken seriously because we already know there is a serious terror-recruiting and networking problem within that community, possibly more than with any other in the United States.

Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andrew Lugar warned a few years ago that there is “a terror-recruiting problem in Minnesota” among the Somali youth and that it does not stem from overseas but “may be their best friend right here in town.” Similarly, a federal judge warned in 2016, “This community needs to understand there is a jihadist cell in this community. Its tentacles spread out.”

It’s not hard to imagine that those tentacles are funding Shabab terrorists back home.

A few years ago, Ami Horowitz (no relation), a filmmaker who produces documentaries, recorded “man on the street” segments with Somali immigrants in Minneapolis’s Cedar Riverside community. His findings were disconcerting, to say the least. Almost all of the dozen or so people he interviewed said they preferred Sharia law over the Constitution and felt it should be a crime to insult Muhammad.

Last year, the DOJ filed a civil complaint against four Somalis suspected of defrauding the diversity visa lottery.

This is not to say every last individual in the community is a problem. But state and federal officials must do more to work with people within the community to uncover the terror-financing network, and we must certainly not bring in more people fresh from the Somalian civil war before we get a handle on this.

We have been bringing in 6,000-10,000 Somalis every year for over two decades. Thankfully, Trump has slowed down the pace, and thus far this fiscal year, the administration has only brought in a few hundred Somalis. However, we are still fighting the wrong battle. We have our soldiers refereeing tribal warfare in places like Somalia. We lost a soldier last year fighting for the “free Syrian army.” But nothing in Somalia can hurt us; instead, we are bringing Somali refugees here, where they attack us or fund terror abroad. As many as 40 Somalis in the Minneapolis community have been investigated for terrorism in recent years.


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It is downright reckless for our political leaders to continue risking our security when we are having such widespread difficulty with many of the Somali immigrants already in America. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself a Somali immigrant, wrote several years ago, “I have no objection to other people coming to America to seek a better life for themselves and their families. My concern is with the attitudes many of these new Muslim Americans will bring with them – and with our capacity for changing those attitudes.”

James Madison made this point in 1812 when he said he believed in warmly welcoming only those immigrants “who are attached to our Country by its natural and political advantages.” He certainly didn’t envision welfare as one of those advantages, especially if those funds could wind up in the hands of terrorists.

Moral of the story? We don’t need to spend hundreds of billions in the Middle East and risk lives refereeing Islamic civil wars. We merely need to stop admitting Sharia-adherent immigrants and focus like a laser beam on the money trail. It all gets back to money.

It’s hard to fight terrorism with a conventional military, especially when we let the problems into our own country. This is why a relentless war on terror financing should be the top priority of counter-terrorism. Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab, or any other network cannot function without funding.

The mistakes of our Somalia intervention are plaguing us more acutely than ever and have now become an enemy within. It’s time to stop the madness.

Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.