Minneapolis Professor Explains to Jurors Why Somalis Are Just Like 19th Century Norwegians
06/04/2024
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Back in 2022, in a blog post entitled “They’re Not Making Minnesotans Like They Used To,” I explained about the Feeding Our Future fraud trial in which the feds are charging a few dozen people in Minnesota with stealing almost a quarter of a billion dollars in COVID relief funds by hugely inflating the number of free meals they gave out to Somalis in Minnesota:

Here are the Minnesota defendants:

Aimee Marie Bock, Abdikerm Abdelahi Eidleh, Salim Ahmed Said, Abdulkadir Nur Salah, Ahmed Sharif Omar-Hashim, Abdi Nur Salah, Abdihakim Ali Ahmed, Ahmed Mohamed Artan, Abdikadir Ainanshe Mohamud, Abdinasir Mahamed Abshir, Asad Mohamed Abshir, Hamdi Hussein Omar, Ahmed Abdullahi Ghedi, Abdirahman Mohamud Ahmed, Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Mohamed Jama Ismail, Mahad Ibrahim, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Said Shafii Farah, Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin, Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff, Hayat Mohamed Nur, Abdiwahab Ahmed Mohamud, Filsan Mumin Hassan, Guhaad Hashi Said, Abdullahe Nur Jesow, Abdul Abubakar Ali, Yusuf Bashir Ali, Haji Osman Salad, Fahad Nur, Anab Artan, Awad Farhiya Mohamud, Liban Yasin Alishire, Ahmed Yasin Ali, Khadar Jigre Adan, Sharmake Jama, Ayan Jama, Asha Jama, Fartun Jama, Mustafa Jama, Zamzam Jama, Bekam Addissu Merdassa, Hadith Yusuf Ahmed, and Hanna Marekegn.

But now, an expert witness for the defense has testified that Somalis are just like his Norwegian great-grandparents. From the Minnesota Reformer:

Feeding Our Future defense witnesses offer contradicting stories about food distribution
Defendant Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff took the stand late Wednesday
BY: DEENA WINTER – MAY 29, 2024 9:04 PM

… The witnesses were all called to testify by the attorney for Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff, who is one of seven defendants charged in a Shakopee-based scheme to fraudulently get reimbursed $49 million in federal funds by vastly inflating the number of meals served. Prosecutors say they used the reimbursement money to buy luxury cars, houses, jewelry and property overseas—and very little food.

… As the six other defendants’ attorneys said they would rest their case without calling witnesses, some jurors looked puzzled, given some of the attorneys repeatedly said they would call witnesses and show photos and videos of hordes of people getting food. …

Professor talks about how Somalis do business differently

On Wednesday, jurors also heard from a University of Minnesota professor who talked about how East African immigrants do business in less formal way and often send desperately needed money back to their home country.

Professor Paul Martin Vaaler, [right] who teaches at the university’s business and law schools, was hired by defense attorneys to share his expertise about diaspora businesses. Vaaler explained why many East Africans create multiple limited liability corporations, hire each other as consultants and wire money overseas. In addition to the seven defendants currently on trial, another 63 have been charged, and most are of Somali ancestry. Eighteen have pleaded guilty.

In a kindly, gentle tone, the gray-haired professor gave the jury a lesson in Minnesota’s history of welcoming immigrants, from Vietnam and Liberia to Somalia and Ukraine.

Vaaler said one reason he became interested in studying East Africans is that the Carlson School of Management abuts the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, which has long welcomed new Americans, including his Norwegian ancestors.

“I’m a fourth-generation Norwegian and my ancestors would’ve been in that same Cedar-Riverside community 100 years ago,” Vaaler said. The nearby Norwegian Memorial Church, or Mindekirken, still holds a service in Norwegian, he said.

In Somalia, the civil war and attendant breakdown in institutions and lack of a secure banking system led to a more informal economy, with verbal contracts. Your word is your bond, and violations of trust are met with ostracization, he said.

Or in the case of Rep. Ilhan Omar and her father and grandfather, who were high-ranking officials in the genocidal regime of the dictator Said Barre, their violations of trust were met with AK-47 fire after Said Barre’s downfall.

Norwegian immigrants also had an aversion to insurance, which is how the Lutheran Brotherhood fraternal benefit society came to be, Vaaler said.

For refugees, often their home country’s government was less a helping hand and more of a “grabbing hand” that would sweep through their bank accounts when there was a budget deficit, he said. Consequently, “there may be a preference for doing (business) outside the gaze of the government.” …

Jurors took copious notes as he explained how Islamic law forbids financing—which is considered usury—so many Somalis are reluctant to use credit cards or finance purchases, and “cash is king.” Instead, they’ll often engage in profit-sharing agreements or lease agreements.

Vaaler explained that immigrants often transfer money abroad—as is alleged in this case as part of money laundering allegations—to friends, family and business partners. Such “remittances” far exceed all other foreign aid, Vaaler said.

“It’s the best foreign aid in the world because it doesn’t go through government,” he said.

Since then, USA Today has reported on more traditional Norwegian-Minnesota behavior in the Feeding Our Future trial:

Out of a mob movie: Juror in COVID fraud case dismissed after getting bag of $120,000 cash

Prosecutors say an unidentified woman showed up at the juror’s house with the bag of cash and told her father-in-law: ‘There will be another bag for her if she votes to acquit.’

Jonathan Limehouse
USA TODAY

A juror in a $250 million charitable fraud case in Minnesota was dismissed Monday after someone went to her home and offered a bag of $120,000 in cash in exchange for an acquittal, according to multiple reports.

The woman, identified as Juror 52, was part of a federal trial involving mishandled money that was supposed to feed hungry children during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Justice Department release.

The jury-tampering allegations were discussed Monday morning in the courtroom away from jurors, the Sahan Journal reported. U.S. Assistant Attorney Joe Thompson told U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel that a woman went to the juror’s home and left her a bag stuffed with rolls of dollar bills on Sunday night, the outlet said.

"This is outrageous behavior. This is the stuff that happens in mob movies,” Thompson said, according to the Star Tribune. “It really strikes at the heart of this case.”

The 23-year-old juror was not home when the woman came by, but her father-in-law was, according to Thompson, the Sahan Journal reported. The woman told the juror’s father-in-law that the money was “for Juror 52.”

“Tell her there will be another bag for her if she votes to acquit,” according to Thompson, the outlet said.

Once the juror returned home and learned what happened, she called the police, Thompson said, according to the Minnesota-based outlet. The bag of money is now in the FBI’s custody, the assistant attorney added.

So I guess they are still making at least one Minnesotan like they used to.

[Comment at Unz.com]

 

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