Ohio: Mohammed and Ahmad arrested in food stamp fraud case

These are not the same perps we had last week!  Here are last week’s Mohammad (AL) and Ahmed (NY)!

That is Mohammed on the left.

Thanks to reader Robin for spotting this story with yet again a slightly different twist on the increasingly common scam.  The gas station owners weren’t even eligible to trade in food stamps, they were just buying cards (at a discounted rate) from customers who wanted quick cash.

From ABC6:

GROVE CITY — State agents cracked down on a gas station shop owner and his employee, who allegedly cheated taxpayers out of hundreds of dollars in a matter of days.

Taxpayers lost $3 billion*** every year in food stamp fraud, according to an undercover video. Mohammed Aqel and Ahmad Hijazi are accused of contributing to that figure by trafficking food stamp cards in Grove City.

The men were apparently accepting the cards even though their Marathon shop on Broadway is not certified to take the welfare.

Undercover agents with the Ohio Investigative Unit said they posed as customers at this Marathon more than twice in the last few weeks. They said they sold the suspects three EBT cards for more than $100 cash. The benefits on the cards amount to five times that price.

Agents said Aqel and Hijazi spent it all. They suspect they either bought groceries for their own homes or stocked the shelves at the business. The duo faces felony charges and risk losing their liquor license.   [What the heck!  Gas station owners in Ohio can get liquor licenses?—ed]

For new readers, we follow food stamp fraud cases here at RRW as a side interest.  Click here for dozens and dozens of food stamp fraud cases involving immigrant-run Mom & Pop stores.

Go here for information on reporting suspected food stamp fraud in your town.

***Related, see also this December story in the New York Times confirming the $3 billion in SNAP fraud the Dept. of Agriculture is uncovering.

Italy rescues 1,000 illegal migrants in 24 hours

What would we do without readers who help us do our work by finding good stories for us?  Again, ‘pungentpeppers’ has been busy reading.

Pretty much the same story we’ve been reporting for years except, of course, the pace has increased and the number of foundering boats and passengers seems to be growing exponentially.   I guess they didn’t hear about the 300 plus who drowned only a few months ago.

Ferrying migrants to Italian shores. AFP Photo

From The Telegraph:

 The Italian navy has rescued more than 1,000 migrants in the 24 hours to Friday from boats trying to reach Europe, as an immigration crisis that killed hundreds in the last year showed no signs of easing.

Navy helicopters spotted four overcrowded boats struggling to stay afloat south of Sicily on Thursday and ships were sent to save them, the navy said in a statement.

The 823 men, women and children aboard the four vessels were from countries including Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia.

The navy also rescued 233 migrants from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia, Mali and Pakistan in a separate operation and took them to a port near Syracuse on Sicily’s eastern coast.


Over the past two decades, Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean island of Malta have the brunt of the migrant flows and have urged a coordinated European Union response.

Type ‘Malta’ into our search function and learn about how the Bush Administration, and now the Obama Administration, have helped make Malta a magnet for illegal aliens hoping to get a ticket to America as we have turned hundreds of mostly Somali economic migrants to Malta into legitimate refugees for America.

More on Minneapolis explosion in Somali apartment building

Firefighters search frozen ruble in Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Where is Farah? Photo: Star Tribune

Update January 5th:  Must-read post at Gates of Vienna. Lots of questions!  AP reports a third person has died.

Update January 4th:  There are a few more nuggets of information in the latest from the Star Tribune, here.   Could be weeks before the cause of the blast is determined.  Blogger Lee Stranahan has some answers and more questions.

Update:  Second body found an hour or so ago, assumed to be Farah, here.

The story gets stranger and stranger!

Sheesh, I thought I was done with this topic this morning, but reader ‘pungentpeppers’ commented that there is another version of the Star Tribune explosion story that has this paragraph in it regarding the supposedly unaccounted-for man (in red):

“Family members identified the two people not accounted for as Mrimri Farah, said to be about 60 years old, and Ahmad Ali, 57, who shared an apartment. ………

Farah previously served in the U.S. Army and at one point was stationed in Iraq, said Shareef Hassan, a friend. Farah had gone to live in Somalia and came back to live in Minneapolis a couple of months ago.”

The version of the story I posted this morning (which did not have this paragraph) was from 6:51 p.m. yesterday and the version ‘pungentpeppers’ found was from 9:31 p.m. also last night.

Where is Farah?

Centers for Disease Control attempts to keep Americans safe as refugees enter US

When I wrote the post yesterday about Syrian refugees carrying polio to surrounding countries, I went off on a google search of other medical problems relating to refugees (something we have written a lot about in previous posts in our health issues category).

I was especially interested in intestinal parasites as just the day before a friend told me how the presence of parasites can cause all sorts of other health problems not considered initially connected to the parasites.    I see that the Centers for Disease Control has an entire section of its website devoted to health issues involving refugees, here (Immigrant and Refugee Health).

The tapeworm diet—stay slim with intestinal parasites!

As for those parasites, the CDC has guidelines for treatment before the refugees even enter the US, but that they are not always followed:

These guidelines are recommendations for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) physicians and other panel physicians who administer overseas predeparture presumptive treatment for intestinal parasites. While most recommendations have been implemented, not all refugee populations listed in this document are receiving all recommended pre-departure medications, due to funding restrictions and logistical challenges.

I’m presuming that the federal refugee contractors (and their approximately 300 subcontractors) are training all of their volunteers about health safety precautions when dealing with newly arrived refugees who may have TB, HIV/AIDS, polio, or parasites to name just a few highly communicable health risks.

Obesity in Somali women noted in Swedish study

Unrelated to the CDC, but not worth a whole post on it’s own, is this medical news from Sweden. Somali women get fat on western diet, have low self-esteem, feel alienated from society and have a higher risk of heart attacks.

The last-decade incidence of myocardial infarction (MI) has diminished dramatically in most age groups but not in middle-aged women in Sweden. There has been a large influx of immigrants and it has been shown that immigrant women have a higher BMI and are less physically active than Swedish women.


The study revealed that Somali migrated women in Sweden had changed their diet and experienced weight increase. They reported low self-esteem and little motivation for physical activity. They understood that they had a higher risk for heart disease as compared to Swedish women and they had, in general, a preference for big body size. The women of this study are, in combination with other risk factors, at a high risk of myocardial infarction. They all revealed a general knowledge about the relationship between obesity and inactivity and enhanced risks for heart disease. They had a preference for a larger female body image. They expressed low self-esteem, loneliness, and alienation from society.

Since the study was so small, the recommendation is for a larger study.   I think we can assume, however, that parasites are not the primary cause of the women’s health problems in this case.

The cartoon is from this article about the dangers of tapeworm dieting!

Minneapolis explosion update: Fire chief says natural gas, gas company says no

Update:  New information added to this Star Tribune story, go here.

Also, one body was recovered yesterday from the scene of the explosion and fire in Cedar-Riverside neighborhood home to a large number of Somali refugees who have flocked to Minnesota over the last couple of decades.  See our earlier post here.

According to the Star Tribune, Rep. Keith Ellison stopped by the scene to offer his services. 2014 is an election year.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune thanks to Richard of Blue Ridge Forum:

A body was recovered Thursday afternoon from the wreckage of the three-story Minneapolis apartment building destroyed by a New Year’s Day explosion, fire officials confirmed.

“At approximately 1:55 p.m. Minneapolis Fire Department officials confirmed that one body was discovered in the structure at 516 Cedar Ave. S.,” said a statement by Assistant Fire Chief Chérie A. Penn.

Penn said the victim has been turned over to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office. She said crews will continue to remove debris until dark and will resume their work Friday morning.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, the Minneapolis fire chief said the fire in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood was most likely caused by a natural gas leak.

Gas company says they had no natural gas in the area.  Homeland Security has ruled out an explosive device.

Fire Chief John Fruetel said Thursday afternoon that witness accounts of a natural gas smell and the explosion strongly suggest that gas was involved.

Fruetel added that the fire began either on the second floor or third floor.

But Fruetel also said that investigators are not certain what caused the fire and they may never be certain. He said four or five investigators have been on the site around the clock, looking for evidence such as debris patterns.

A spokeswoman for the natural gas utility CenterPoint Energy strongly discounted natural gas as a likely cause.

“We had no natural gas in the area,” said Rebecca Virden, basing her information on CenterPoint’s own investigation and testing in the area.

If it were attributed to natural gas, Virden added, “the roof would come off, the walls would come out.”

She offered that if there was a gas involved, “it could be a different type of gas.”

She offered that if there was a gas involved, “it could be a different type of gas.”

Asked about CenterPoint’s denial, Fruetel said, “I’m just basing it on what my investigators say.”

He said officials haven’t determined it was natural gas, but said that is what they’re focused on.

The chief called the scene an active investigation that has early on ruled out any signs of an explosive device. Homeland Security personnel were on the scene in the aftermath of the fire that sent 14 people to hospitals, six in critical condition.

There is more, read it all!

Photo is from the Investigative Project on Terrorism, here.