Investigations into the misuse of food stamp funds seems to be showing that federal aide that was supposed to go to feed the needy was instead converted to fund terrorists in Africa and the Middle East.
A new report by the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) highlights a number of incidents where money from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program may have flowed into the hands of terrorists and may have helped fund the 1993 World Trade Center bombings and the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing.
According to Breitbart News:
Detectives told the committee that $125 million in food stamp fraud had “unwittingly” gone to terrorist activities.
One of the masterminds of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, Mahmud Abouhalima, funded the attacks by operating a million-dollar food stamp fraud scheme out of a video store in Brooklyn.
But the U.S. government did not pinpoint how a lot of these terrorists used money from food stamp fraud to fund their attacks until shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
The U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) identified that many terrorists would get away with funding their illicit activities by using businesses known as “hawalas” to launder money.
A “hawala”– which is an Arabic term defined in English as transfer (or trust) — is a method of transferring money through informal agents from international networks, and many Muslim immigrants settled in western countries use the “hawala” method to transfer funds to family members.
The GAI noted that as much as $7 billion annually flows from the U.S. to Pakistan though these hawalas.
It should be noted that this is above and beyond any federal aide sent through the federal government!
Some terror suspects were found to have used hawalas to fund terror:
In 2006, a judge sentenced a Chicago grocery store owner to more than four years behind bars for defrauding $1.4 million from the nation’s food stamp program and using it to fund terrorist activities carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
In 2011, the FBI arrested Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, both Iraqi refugees, on federal terrorism charges for sending “money and weapons to Iraqi insurgents from the U.S.” Alwan became a refugee in 2009, citing persecution in his native country, when he settled in Bowling Green, Kentucky. After briefly holding a job in the area, he moved into public housing and collected welfare payouts.
In 2013, federal investigators discovered that Islamic militants Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings, had been receiving more than $100,000 in federal welfare assistance over ten years. The Tsarnaev brothers, who had emigrated to the U.S. from Kyrgyzstan, had been receiving cash, section 8 housing, and food stamps.
But the problem is, these hawalas are entirely informal and lack solid record keeping. So, there is no way to fully prevent American money from going into the hands of terrorists.
Some members of Congress are working to put an end to this practice.
Federal lawmakers have also become aware of these illicit means of transferring money, and have introduced bills to stop “hawalas” and similar money laundering activities. In May 2017, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) proposed legislation that would prohibit the practice of money laundering through hawalas.
More Americans need to be made aware of this problem.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.
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