FBI raids Minneapolis travel agency in connection with terror probeby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — FBI agents raided a Minneapolis travel agency earlier this week in support of a broader investigation into the disappearances of about 20 Somali-American men.
Amana Travel is the same company that said it refused to book flights for two teen-agers who wanted to travel to Somalia early last year. An employee told MPR News she helped alert the parents of the two boys about their plans. But the young men somehow made it to Somalia months later.
The FBI is investigating how roughly 20 young men from Minnesota traveled to their native Somalia since late 2007, possibly to fight in that country's civil war.
The men are believed to be fighting with al-Shabaab, an extremist group that is trying to violently oust Somalia's weak government. The U.S. considers al-Shabaab a terrorist group.
Last month, in connection with the massive counterterrorism investigation, agents raided the apartments of two Rochester women who regularly send money and secondhand clothing to displaced people in Somalia. The search warrants for the Rochester raids and the Minneapolis travel agency are under seal in federal court.
An FBI spokesman confirmed that the Amana Travel raid is separate from a Minneapolis police investigation that resulted in the arrest of the travel agency's owner, Ali Mohamed Mohamud, on Thursday. Local authorities accuse Mohamud of scamming customers out of more than $33,000 in airline tickets that he allegedly never arranged for them.
Some customers reported that they didn't realize Amana had canceled their trips, or that the tickets were bogus, until they arrived at the airport ready to board their flights.
Mohamud, 35, has been charged with six counts of theft by swindle.
He has not been charged in any federal crimes stemming from the raid of his business.