FBI ‘won’t touch it’ for fear of offending Muslims
Men and women pulling “suitcases full of cash” started showing up at Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport last year holding tickets for international flights bound for Africa.
Transporting large amounts of cash overseas is perfectly legal. But it was who was carrying the money … and where it was going that caught the attention of law enforcement, according to a report by KING 5, the local NBC affiliate for western Washington.
Those hauling the cash-laden cases were Somali-Americans who’d come to this country as refugees. They routinely send money back to Somalia. And many of the greenbacks headed to the jihadist-infested East African country come from welfare checks the refugees receive from the U.S. government, compliments of American taxpayers.
Carrying more than $10,000 while traveling out of the United States is legal as long as the traveler declares it by filling out a one-page federal form.
It was while looking at these slips of paper that terrorism expert Glenn Kerns found a disturbing pattern.
“The thing was the amount, the staggering amount,” said Kerns, a Seattle police officer who was assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for 14 years before he retired in December.
The cash couriers were working for hawalas – businesses that derive their name from the Arabic word for “transfer.” Hawalas are part of a traditional system of banking in Shariah-compliant Muslim communities.
Seattle and King County are home to the fourth largest Somali community in the United States. More than 132,000 Somalis have come to the U.S. as “refugees” since 1983, with more than 60 percent arriving since the late 1990s.
The Somali refugees continue to arrive in the U.S. at a rate of 750 a month, placed in dozens of U.S. cities including Seattle, San Diego, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Lewiston, Maine; Fargo, North Dakota; Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho; and Columbus, Ohio, among other places.
Many use the hawalas to send money back to their families in Somalia.
But is all of it going to downtrodden family members?
That’s the question Kerns wanted the U.S. government to investigate.
It would make sense, since Somalia is home to an active jihadist rebellion from al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate that slaughters Christians in neighboring Kenya and seeks to establish an ISIS-like caliphate in East Africa.
“(They) have Al Shabaab, which has been designated a terrorist organization, and our concern is how much money is going to them?” Kerns told KING 5.
Watch the report from KING 5 TV in Seattle:
Kerns said the first cash shipment rolled through Sea-Tac early last year. A man carrying $750,000 in cash told Customs officials he was transporting the money overseas. Over the next few months couriers carrying as much as $2 million boarded commercial flights at Sea-Tac.
One Seattle hawala sent out $20 million last year, said Kerns.
If it’s happening in Seattle, it’s likely happening in Minneapolis, Columbus, San Diego and other cities where large Somali communities have been resettled by the U.S. government in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Which leads to the next set of logical questions: Where is all this money coming from and why isn’t the federal government interested in investigating where it’s going? Continue reading
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