Somali Piracy: The Minnesota Connection

One might think that a Somali pirate, captured in the Indian Ocean and brought to the United States to stand trial, would be without friends, allies and financial supporters in this country. But no: it turns out that a veritable Pirates’ Aid Society exists, right here in Minnesota.

We’ve written about the connections between the Somali community here in the Twin Cities (the nation’s largest) and Somali terrorists. Similarly, local activists evidently have ties to the “pirate community” in Somalia. Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

Twin Cities activist Omar Jamal said Tuesday he has helped ensure that a suspected pirate is treated justly while in federal custody in New York. …

Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul, said that he spoke Monday with the parents of suspected pirate Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse and that he has been consulting with Muse’s attorneys.

The Strib article implies that Jamal’s organization is helping to pay for the pirate’s legal defense, but that isn’t stated explicitly. Where would the Somali Justice Advocacy Center get the money to send to New York to help defend the pirate? In part, at least, from Minnesota taxpayers:

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, responding to “tons of e-mails” from people he said were outraged by Jamal’s actions, said he will seek to block nonprofit status and state grants to any organization that helps foreign citizens accused of piracy or terrorism.

Seifert, who’s planning to offer an amendment to the public safety finance bill this week, said he’s trying to find out how much public money has gone to Jamal’s center in the past three years. “I don’t care if he gets $2 in subsidies, it’s too much,” he said. “Not one dime of taxpayer money if you jet off to New York to support a pirate.”

At every level, our governments have spun out of control and have lost sight of the citizens whose interests they are supposed to be protecting.

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