See this story about investigations underway in Seattle where Somalis are carrying American dollars back to Africa (which is legal, but questionable under the circumstances described in the story from King 5).
Here is the first question that popped into my head when I read this story:
So, if Somalis can travel back and forth to Somalia safely (carrying suitcases stuffed with American dollars that will be lost to the US economy), then doesn’t that mean that Somalia is safe enough and we no longer need to be resettling Somalis at the rate of 750 a month into your towns and cities!
Read this incredible story! Here are just a few snips:
Travelers pulling suitcases full of cash started showing up at Sea-Tac Airport last year holding tickets for flights headed out of the United States.
Transporting large amounts of cash overseas isn’t illegal. But it was who was carrying the money … and where it was going that caught the attention of security officials.
The people carrying the cash didn’t hide the fact from Customs. Just the opposite, they reported it. Anyone traveling out of the United States is required to declare any amount over $10,000 and fill out a one-page federal form.
These reports are what caught the attention of terrorism investigators in Seattle.
“The thing was the amount, the staggering amount,” said Glenn Kerns, who was assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) at the time.
The couriers were working for Seattle-area hawalas – businesses that derive their name from the Arabic word for “transfer.” Hawalas are part of a traditional system of informal banking in Muslim communities.
Kerns said the first cash shipment rolled through Sea-Tac early last year. A man carrying $750,000 in cash told Customs officials he was transporting the money overseas. Over the next several months, couriers carrying as much as $2 million boarded commercial flights at Sea-Tac.
“One hawala – Seattle hawala – sent out $20 million last year,” said Kerns.
Kerns was a Seattle police officer who retired last December after serving 14 years on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
He uncovered something suspicious when he analyzed financial records that the hawalas are required file with the Washington Department of Financial Institutions.