This is one of those puff-piece news stories about refugees I’m always mentioning, and so it’s not surprising that it comes from the Tennessean. I have never seen that paper write anything about refugees other than those glowing accounts about the joys of multiculturalism in the “Music City.” Hat tip: a friend from Tennessee.
I’ll let you read the whole thing [June 2009, I see one must now purchase this article from Feb. 3rd to read it], but take note too that Lavinia (Whoop-de-do) Limon of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants is whining, as always, about how refugee agencies don’t have enough money. Readers may recall some of her subcontractors have been closed or told to shape up by the State Department for inadequately caring for refugees they were contracted to resettle. That Waterbury, CT subcontractor mentioned in the ‘Whoop-de-do’ post was subsequently suspended by the State Department. But, that’s another story!
Here is the part of the Tennessean article that perked me up.
The latest State Department figures show Nashville ranks 28th in the nation for refugee resettlement, with nearly 3,100 placed here since 2002 — about 1 percent of the national total. Newcomers are becoming so diverse that the former Somali Community Center was recently renamed the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee. Its development director, Carter Moody, is busy seeking grants to assist an influx arriving at a difficult time to help them.
“Over time, Nashville and several other heartland cities — Denver, Iowa City, Minneapolis — have gained more mature social services [lucky Nashville! No English required there either!] that were on par with the East and West Coast,” Moody said.
So they convienently dropped the name, Somali Community Center, eh? Could it be they want to shed their bad image with federal granting agencies? We have heard of this before, some agency or volag gets into grant trouble and pretty soon they are going by another name, I suppose hoping that new federal or state grantors (or the public!) won’t link them to the former bad acts.
A reminder to readers, the Somali Community Center got into hot water with the federal government over misuse of grants and with a possible connection to terrorist activities back in 2007. Check out this important and shocking story from Nashville’s Channel 4 news at the time.
A Channel 4 News I-Team investigation has raised questions about why a local community center is still getting funds after being investigated for having terrorist ties.
According to annual reports, the Somali Center in south Nashville receives $400,000 per year in taxpayer dollars from federal, state and local governments.
But what has some asking questions is how the center’s executive director, Abdizirik Hassan, is still getting grants after pleading guilty to making false statements during a government investigation.
In 2001, Hassan’s Nashville bank was shut down by counter-terrorism investigators because they said the bank was linked to Al-Barakat. Al-Barakat is a bank and wiring transfer service that is linked to al-Qaida, according to investigators.
Hassan was arrested and charged with felony illegal banking.
While out on bond, Hassan and the Somali Center were awarded a grant in the amount of nearly $500,000 by the same federal government that indicted him.
One of the grants involved went to an Imam to administer, but he is now unavailable for comment after hopping a plane to Kenya.
Hassan hired his friend and Imam of the Al-Farooq Somali Mosque, Abdishakur Ibrahim.
Second-hand sources said that Ibrahim now lives in Kenya and there are no answers for his sudden departure from Nashville.
Mr. Moody must be figuring with a new angle—more diversity in Nashville’s refugee population and a changed name—- federal grantors in a new Administration might not notice the past indiscretions.