Scheme using children to fund terrorism uncovered

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It has long been known that various terrorist groups devise schemes to obtain funds for their activity that sometimes seem legitimate and other times involve fraud.

A recent investigative report by journalists in Minnesota uncovered a scheme involving daycare centers that defrauded the U.S. government of millions of dollars that likely were funneled to al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia.

According to Conservative Review, the scheme was first uncovered five years ago when local Minneapolis media outlet Fox 9 revealed how daycare centers were fraudulently obtaining government subsidies to care for children who often were never actually cared for in the centers.

The scheme was fairly widespread and may have cost the state upwards of $100 million per year.

At least 10 daycare centers are currently under investigation for involvement in the fraud, and others are suspected of participating as well.

Once the subsidy money was received by the centers, and after participants and parents were given small kickbacks, the cash was bundled in $1 million increments and flown out of the country in suitcases on a near-weekly basis.

That money would eventually end up in areas of Somalia controlled by the al-Shabaab terrorist group, formerly affiliated with Al Qaeda but more recently aligned with the Islamic State group.

The funds were typically funneled through what are known as “Hawalas,” described by Fox 9 as “businesses used to courier money to countries that have no official banking system.”

A retired Seattle police detective named Glen Kerns, who worked with a federal terrorism task force for 15 years, tracked some of the money from the U.S. to Somalia and discovered where it ended up under al-Shabaab control himself.

He stated that it was “absolutely” likely that at least some of the funds were used to finance illicit terrorism operations, based on information obtained from “good sources, from the community leaders” he spoke with during his investigation.

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“My personal opinion is we need a nationwide task force to clamp down on this type of fraud,” stated Kerns.

We couldn’t agree more, and suspect this and other types of terrorism-financing fraud aren’t confined solely to Minnesota, but are taking place all across the country.

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