ST. LOUIS (AP) — An immigrant couple from Bosnia pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges of funneling money and military supplies to extremist groups in Iraq and Syria.
Each of the six suspects is now in federal custody after the Tuesday arrest in Germany of Jasminka Ramic, 42.
Bosnian community leaders in St. Louis, which has the largest population among U.S. cities of refugees from the former Yugoslavia, say the arrests of the Hodzics and a third local resident, 37-year-old Armin Harcevic, tarnishes a community whose members have worked tirelessly to embrace their adopted homeland. Most of the estimated 70,000 Bosnians in St. Louis are Muslim and arrived after the war that broke out in the early 1990s.
Click here for some previous posts we have written on Bosnian refugees here in America. We also have a bunch of posts on all sorts of refugee problems in St. Louis, here. See especially this postabout how a refugee contractor wants to further ‘diversify’ St. Louis by 2020.
I’ve been meaning to at least report on the latest round of angst over restrictions on sending American money from the Somali ‘community’ here to Somalia. Of course the banks are worried that the dollars (that probably came through various US welfare programs) will end up in the hands of terrorists.
So, here is a report from Foreign Policy summing up where things stand now. As expected, Rep. Keith Ellison is going to bat for his Minnesota Somali constituents.
Remember readers that the remittance practice is a big deal and is an important driver for migrants of all sorts to get here—those Central American governments, happy to see their ‘children’ go to America, are driven by the desire for the cold hard cash that the migrants send home. The cash thus leaves the US economy.
Many companies that send money from immigrants in the United States to friends and family in Somalia shut down this week, but the State Department doesn’t see any need for an emergency response.
State spokeswoman Jen Psaki downplayed the impact that a cutoff of remittances could have on millions of Somalis who the U.N. says depend on the money for basic survival. It would be a “stretch,” Psaki said Wednesday, to connect remittances to economic opportunity in Somalia.
Psaki said the U.S. government had “engaged in ongoing communication with the Somali community in the United States and financial institutions serving that community” in an effort to effectively regulate remittances and keep them from financing terrorism.
At issue is the fallout from a decision by the main bank facilitating international wire transfers to Somalia to close the accounts used to hold and then send the money. Merchants Bank of California, which handled 60 to 80 percent of those funds, closed all Somali accounts on Friday, as Foreign Policy was the first to report. The closure was a result of regulatory pressure on banks to verify where the money is going to make sure it isn’t funding terrorism, which is hard to do in Somalia because the country doesn’t have a central bank or formal banking system.
Oxfam, the humanitarian organization, responded to Psaki’s comment by pointing out that Somalia receives $1.3 billion in remittances every year, which is more than the country gets in aid or foreign investment.
“It is critical that the Department of State recognize the catastrophic consequences that the current disruption in remittances will have in Somalia,” Scott Paul, a senior advisor for Oxfam America, said in an emailed statement.
There is more, see what Rep. Keith Ellison has to say,here.
For the many new readers who joined us yesterday, we have resettled over 100,000 Somali refugees to the US in the last couple of decades,here. Minneapolis is ground zero because of the refugee contractors operating there which include: Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Service, and the evangelicals, World Relief (new name is Arrive Ministries), here. The original attraction of Minnesota was its generous welfare system.
The US State Department and its contractors brought in 9,000 new Somalis to America in 2014 and are on target for 10,000 this year. They will be distributed around the country.
While I was distracted over the last two days (here), some of our readers were on top of the news. Thanks to reader Joanne for spotting this story about why the Syrian refugee flow to America is only a trickle. I am still puzzled why the UN and its “humanitarian” cheering squad are not squawking at Obamaover the hold-up as they went absolutely nuts when George Bush did the same thing in his Presidency about Iraqis.
US authorities are facing a difficult task screening Syrian refugees for potential extremists because of a shortage of intelligence from the war-torn country, officials told lawmakers Wednesday.
Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said the US government had data and intelligence to draw on when it performed background checks on refugees from Iraq in recent years but in the case of Syria, there was “a lack of information.”
“The difference is, in Iraq, we were there on the ground collecting, so we had databases to use,” Steinbach told the House Homeland Security Committee. [And they still let in the Kentucky Iraqi refugee terrorists!—ed]
“The concern is in Syria, the lack of our footprint on the ground in Syria, that the databases won’t have the information we need,” he said.
“You are talking about a country that is a failed state, that does not have any infrastructure so to speak, ” he said.
Washington has decided to let in more Syrians displaced by the civil war and announced plans in December to review about 9,000 refugee cases referred by the UN refugee agency.
US officials told AFP on Wednesday that nearly 11,000 cases referred by the UNHCR will be examined. [Once again an admission that the UN is picking our refugees!—ed]
Lawmakers at the hearing voiced dismay at the possibility that some of the male refugees heading to America could be potential jihadists.
The US was already working to stop foreign fighters from returning to America and admitting large numbers of refugees “would be a federally sanctioned welcome party, if you will, to potential terrorists in the United States,” said Michael McCaul, Republican chairman of the committee.
Such a move would be a “huge mistake,” he said.
Here is a thought to solve the problem and keep us safe—stop all Muslim migration to America starting with the large numbers of Muslim refugees we are resettling in 180 cities across the country!
Click herefor our now very extensive Syrian refugees archive.