Minnesota taxpayers involuntarily funding $100 million in cash to jihadists?
Our friend John Hinderaker of Powerline and the Center for the American Experiment asks, "Is this the worst scandal in Minnesota history?"
KMSP Television, the Fox affiliate in the Twin Cities, has been carrying out a five-month-long investigation of the phenomenon of carry-on luggage stuffed with cash – a million dollars at a time – leaving Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for Middle East and African destinations. (If declared to customs, the carrying of cash in excess of $10,000 is legal. Below $10K, no declaration is necessary.) The scandal relates to the origins of the funds.
On the morning of March 15, Fox 9 chased a tip about a man who was leaving the country. Sources said he took a carry-on bag through security that was packed with $1 million in cash. Travelers can do that, as long as they fill out the proper government forms.
Fox 9 learned that these cloak-and-dagger scenarios now happen almost weekly at MSP. The money is usually headed to the Middle East, Dubai and points beyond. Sources said last year alone, more than $100 million in cash left MSP in carry-on luggage.
So where was the money going? According to veteran former Seattle Police and FBI official Glen Kerns, who investigated a similar phenomenon at SeaTac Airport, the money was going to:
Hawalas, businesses used to courier money to countries that have no official banking system.
Some immigrant communities rely on Hawalas to send funds to help impoverished relatives back home. ...
Kerns discovered some of the money was being funneled to a Hawala in the region of Somalia that is controlled by the al Shabaab terrorist group.
"I talked to a couple of sources who had lived in that region and I said, 'If money is going to this Hawala do you think it is going to al Shabaab?'" said Kerns. "And he said, 'Oh definitely, that area is controlled by al Shabaab, and they control the Hawala there.'"
He said when the money arrives, whether it was intended for legitimate purposes or not, al Shabaab or other groups demand a cut.
So where does the money come from?
As Kerns dug deeper, he found that some of the individuals who were sending out tens of thousands of dollars' worth of remittance payments happened to be on government assistance in this country.
How could they possibly come up with such big bucks to transfer back home?
"We had sources that told us, 'It's welfare fraud, it's all about the daycare,'" said Kerns.
Fox 09, KMSP-TV has been on the case of daycare and welfare fraud among immigrant communities for years:
Five years ago the Fox 9 Investigators were first to report that daycare fraud was on the rise in Minnesota, exposing how some businesses were gaming the system to steal millions in government subsidies meant to help low-income families with their childcare expenses.
"It's a great way to make some money," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.
In order for the scheme to work, the daycare centers need to sign up low income families that qualify for child care assistance funding.
Surveillance videos from a case prosecuted by Hennepin County show parents checking their kids into a center, only to leave with them a few minutes later. Sometimes, no children would show up.
Either way, the center would bill the state for a full day of childcare.
Video from that same case shows a man handing out envelopes of what are believed to be kickback payments to parents who are in on the fraud.
When asked where the money was going, Freeman said, "I don't know exactly where it went. But it adds up when you begin to look at how many people were involved."
Stand by: this could be a major scandal not just in Minnesota, but nationwide. Kudos to KMSP-TV!