FBI raids 3 Minneapolis money-transfer shops

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FBI raids 3 Minneapolis money-transfer shops
Posted on 10 April 2009
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.
E.K. Wilson, a special agent for the FBI in Minneapolis, confirmed that agents searched the businesses on the city’s south side to track money transactions, but wouldn’t disclose any further details.
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.
Two months after the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, federal agents froze the assets of five Somali-related operations at three locations in Minneapolis because of suspicions that they were laundering money to Osama bin Laden or his terrorist organization Al-Qaida. In the end, none was the subject of federal criminal indictments.
Somali residents had bemoaned the shutdowns, saying that the businesses were their only way of getting money to impoverished relatives in Somalia.
“We’ve been through this before,” said Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul. “What happened today is the beginning of a long story, so we don’t want the community to panic.”
Source: Star Tribune staff - written By LORA PABST and RICHARD MERYHEW

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