(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said at the White House summit on ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ that not allowing Somalia Americans to send money to their homeland will give an advantage to radical Islamists who are trying to recruit people to their jihadist cause with offers like “a gun, a wife, and a few bucks.”
“I support anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing,” said Ellison, who is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. “I think it’s very important and I have never met a Somali or a Muslim who wants al-Shabaab, or al Qaeda or any of these groups to get a penny. We all want to stop them from getting anything.”
But, Ellison said, it will allow terrorists to attract young men.
“When you know that the al-Shabaab and the other recruiters will offer a young man a gun, a wife, and a few bucks, it becomes clear how critical it us for us to fix this remittance problem,” Ellison said.
Somali migrants around the world send approximately $1.3 billion to Somalia each year in remittance, approximately $215 million of which comes from Somali-Americans and Somalis in the United States, according to an analysis done by Oxfam America and Adeso, African Development Solutions, in July 2013.
Earlier this month, U.S. financial institutions stopped facilitating these remittance transfers citing that funds could fall into the hands of terrorist groups like al-Shabaab.
Harakat al-Shabaab is a Muslim terrorist group based in Somalia, Africa, which is allied with al-Qaeda, the Islamist extremist group responsible for 9/11 and scores of other terrorist attacks around the world.
“We all want to stop [terrorists] from getting anything,” Ellison said. “But at the same time – as we try to stop that bad dollar – we’re so good at trying to stop the bad dollar, we’re stopping the good dollars. And according to some experts, over $250 million flows from the United States to Somalia in the form of remittances.
“And if you ask Somali families – and I’m sure everyone on this table can tell you -- that these remittances pay for school fees, they pay for medical things, they pay for food, they pay for things like this,” Ellison said.