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FBI Investigating Mpls. Travel Agency Owner

FBI Investigating Mpls. Travel Agency Owner

By: Mark Albert and Nicole Muehlhausen

A south Minneapolis business owner, accused of swindling travelers out of airline tickets, could now be part of an FBI investigation into missing Somali men, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned.

Minneapolis Police arrested Ali Mohamud, 35, Thursday after he came back to Minnesota from out of state. He was charged in Hennepin County District Court with six counts of felony theft by swindle, accused of taking approximately $40,000 from at least a dozen travelers but either failing to book the airline tickets to the Middle East or Africa, or canceling the itineraries after they had been purchased and keeping the refund. In all, investigators believe the total amount of money could top $200,000.

“We believe he may have been involved in additional crimes,” Minneapolis Police Lt. Brad Sporny told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Authorities want any businesses that may also be victims of Mohamud to call the Minneapolis Police Department at (612) 673-2941.

Police began an investigation into Mohamud’s business, Amana Travel Agency, at 1841 Nicollet Ave. S. on July 10.

On July 16, Mohamud told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS over the phone that the allegations were all just a ‘misunderstanding.’

As he was being led into the Hennepin County Jail, Mohamud kept silent when asked if he had any comments.

On Wednesday afternoon, FBI agents raided Amana Travel, armed with a now-sealed federal search warrant, FBI spokesman E.K. Wilson confirmed.

The FBI would not comment about the focus of its investigation.

Omar Jamal, with the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, says the investigation involves 20 missing Somali men who are believed to have left the Twin Cities to fight in a civil war back in Somali.

Jamal says he spoke with Mohamud Thursday night. He says Mohamud confirms two of the now-missing men came to the Amana Travel Agency several months ago and handed Mohamud their passports to obtain visas for travel to Somali. But Mohamud did not ultimately book the trip, according to Jamal.

“When Mr. Ali’s attention was brought to him that they were leaving without the parental consent, he turned the passports over back to them and then they left,” Jamal told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “He did play no role whatsoever in helping anyone do anything illegal or leave the country.”


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