47 Somali Immigrants Charged with Stealing $250M in Child Food Aid

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Federal prosecutors have indicted 47 Somali Muslim immigrants in Minnesota for diverting $250 million from a COVID-19 relief program designated to feed underprivileged children.

“Today’s indictments describe an egregious plot to steal public funds meant to care for children in need in what amounts to the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme yet,” stated FBI Director Christopher Wray in a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release:

The defendants went to great lengths to exploit a program designed to feed underserved children in Minnesota amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, fraudulently diverting millions of dollars designated for the program for their own personal gain. These charges send the message that the FBI and our law enforcement partners remain vigilant and will vigorously pursue those who attempt to enrich themselves through fraudulent means.

Prosecutors assert that the 47 defendants established a group called “Feeding Our Future,” along with multiple sub-groups purportedly providing food to needy children during the pandemic. These groups allegedly filed for relief funding at various mosques across Minnesota. Upon receiving the funds, they reportedly claimed to be feeding thousands of children daily and submitted lists of fictitious children to the government as evidence.

One fraudulent feeding center allegedly copied names from listofrandomnames.com and provided this list to federal authorities, claiming to have fed the individuals on it, prosecutors mentioned.

The FBI raids nonprofit Feeding Our Future in St. Anthony, Minnesota, on January 20, 2022. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

During the trial in May, the director and imam of the Dar Al-Farooq mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, claimed that Feeding Our Future fed thousands of children daily. However, witnesses testified that food was distributed only on Saturdays, the Minnesota Reformer reported.

Defense attorneys also called Paul Martin Vaaler, a professor from the University of Minnesota, to compare the Somali immigrant community to Norwegian immigrants from the late 1800s and early 1900s, emphasizing how both communities remained insular and sent money back to their home country instead of spending it locally.

Vaaler, in another testimony, explained that Somali Muslims often deal in cash due to religious restrictions against credit cards and bank loans. However, he admitted that a transfer of over a million dollars to a Somali company for construction did not align with traditional Islamic financial practices.

A witness testified that he helped one defendant build a $1.5 million Muslim cultural and business center, investing $500,000 of his own money. However, he was unclear on how the defendant obtained $900,000 for the project, which prosecutors allege came from the food assistance program.

The trial is ongoing.

The accused in this significant fraud case include Aimee Marie Bock, Abdikerm Abdelahi Eidleh, Salim Ahmed Said, Abdulkadir Nur Salah, Ahmed Sharif Omar-Hashim, Abdi Nur Salah, Abdihakim Ali Ahmed, Ahmed Mohamed Artan, Abdikadir Ainanshe Mohamud, Abdinasir Mahamed Abshir, Asad Mohamed Abshir, Hamdi Hussein Omar, Ahmed Abdullahi Ghedi, Abdirahman Mohamud Ahmed, Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Mohamed Jama Ismail, Mahad Ibrahim, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Said Shafii Farah, Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin, Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff, Hayat Mohamed Nur, Qamar Ahmed Hassan, Sahra Mohamed Nur, Abdiwahab Ahmed Mohamud, Filsan Mumin Hassan, Guhaad Hashi Said, Abdullahe Nur Jesow, Abdul Abubakar Ali, Yusuf Bashir Ali, Haji Osman Salad, Fahad Nur, Anab Arta Awad, Sharmarke Issa, Farhiya Mohamud, Liban Yasin Alishire, Ahmed Yasin Ali, Khadar Jigre Adan, Sharmake Jama, Ayan Jama, Asha Jama, Fartun Jama, Mustafa Jama, Zamzam Jama, Bekam Addissu Merdassa, Hadith Yusuf Ahmed, and Hanna Marekegn.

Warner Todd Huston
Warner Todd Huston
Warner Todd Huston has been writing editorials and news since 2001 but started his writing career penning articles about U.S. history back in the early 1990s. Huston has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN and several local Chicago news programs to discuss the issues of the day. Additionally, he is a regular guest on radio programs from coast to coast. Warner works out of the Chicago area.

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