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Basim Sabri charges Councilman Abdi Warsame with soliciting loan, retaliation



CITY PAGES — In 2014, the wounds of politics past were unhealed inside Basim Sabri. It had been six years since the real estate tycoon was released from federal prison. Sabri served 17 months for trying to bribe former Minneapolis Councilman Brian Herron to help him with a hotel development at the corner of Lake Street and Second Avenue.

In 2001, FBI agents recorded Sabri giving Herron $5,000, cash intended to curry the lawmaker’s support for his development. Sabri was later convicted on three bribery counts and fined $75,000. According to prosecutors, the three counts stemmed from the $5,000 kickback, another $10,000 Sabri offered Herron to set up a meeting with nearby landowners, and a 10 percent commission to Herron on some $800,000 in community development grants Sabri sought from the city and other government sources.

Sometime in late 2014, says Sabri, Minneapolis Councilman Abdi Warsame approached him for a loan.

Warsame denies this.

“What? Is he Wells Fargo or something?” Warsame says. “I never asked Mr. Sabri for a loan of any kind. I only met him once — and it was sometime in 2012 — when I wasn’t a member of the city council. You have to remember who is making this allegation. Mr. Sabri is a convicted felon.”

Over a span of 25 years, Sabri built a real estate empire. He currently owns 10 properties, including the Sabri Block, home to retailers and restaurants on East Lake Street. Moreover, Sabri had loaned Kamal Yasin Ahmed, Warsame’s half-brother and a campaign manager, $3,500 the previous December, according to promissory notes provided to City Pages by Sabri’s lawyer, Robert Speeter.

Ahmed first approached him on Warsame’s behalf, Sabri claims. Warsame counters Ahmed isn’t his brother nor was he a campaign manager.

“He basically said, ‘My brother really needs your help,'” according to Sabri. “At first, I thought he was joking. But then I said, ‘If your brother needs to talk to me, then have him come and talk to me in person.'”

A week or two elapsed. It was about the same time Warsame was running for the City Council, which would eventually make him the highest-ranking Somali-American elected official in the country. Sabri was an eager supporter, distributing last-minute fliers that disparaged incumbent Robert Lilligren.

According to Sabri, Warsame paid him a visit at Karmel Plaza, located near the intersection of Lake Street and Pillsbury Avenue. Warsame said he needed a $25,000 loan to use as a down payment for a house, recalls Sabri.

“I told him. ‘Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you,’” Sabri says. “You know, we all make mistakes, but why would I give him some money when I’d gotten into trouble with money and a member of the City Council before?

“I’m like, ‘I made a mistake, but now do I want to be stupid even if it’s giving this guy money as a loan?’ I’m like, ‘There’s no way. I’m not going to do this,’ and I never gave him an answer. That’s when he began attacking my family.”

Sabri points to an incident the following year. In 2015, the city backpedaled on its position when the council voted against an addition to Karmel Mall, citing various issues, including increased traffic. The dispute is currently in litigation. Sabri alleges that the about-face came at Warsame’s behest. Moreover, Sabri claims city inspectors were making frequent appearances, needling property managers over what Sabri claims were minor issues.

Earlier this year, tensions escalated. Warsame called out Sabri publicly, the developer says, when he pitted small Somali tenants against the Palestinian-born landlord.

A Star Tribune article in January noted that “Somali-American merchants in Minneapolis have depended” on Sabri and the commercial properties he and his family members own. Warsame characterized the relationship as exploitation.

“The Somali community is not beholden to the Sabris. We need to have an alternative mall,” he said, urging the city explore a new private-public venture.

Warsame spotlighted the Village Market at the corner of 24th Street and Elliot Avenue, better known as the “24 Mall.” The Star Tribune story said the complex had been cited for 182 code and regulatory violations since January 2010. The paper quoted Warsame criticizing manager Omar Sabri, Basim’s nephew, for operating unhygienic restrooms for years.

The rift between the men continues to this day, bleeding into the current political season.

With Warsame seeking re-election, one could mistake Basim Sabri for his opponent. No less than a half-dozen videos speak of the developer. Sabri has made no secret he’s thrown his support behind challenger Mohamud Noor. Warsame charges that Sabri is “fully funding Noor’s campaign.”

The escalation prompted Sabri to write Mayor Betsy Hodges and the City Council in August. The letter contends Warsame is retaliating against Sabri for not giving him the $25,000 loan.

The city’s Ethical Practices Board doesn’t appear to be doing much with the accusation. “No action is likely to be taken,” according to an email chain between the board’s Susan Trammell and Sabri’s lawyer. There’s a one-year statute of limitations, meaning Sabri needed to report his complaints within 12 months of when they happened.

According to spokesperson Casper Hill, there are no pending ethics complaints against Warsame.

Sabri doesn’t care what the official line is.

“He tried to use his power to extort me, to use me, whatever you may call it for his personal gain,” he says. “I think that’s wrong.… He approached me, I believe, because I am somebody who is somewhat vulnerable because of my past.”

Warsame thinks the timing of Sabri’s allegations is politically motivated. He believes Sabri is angry because he’s shown the courage to call out and confront “a slumlord who exploits the East African community.”

Warsame says fear of competition prompts Sabri to disparage him, arguing the developer’s rents are outrageously high, his properties pitifully maintained.

“We are actually fighting the Sabri machine,” he says. “This is a referendum on the Sabris because what we have said is we will build a cooperative mall with a public-private partnership, and the Sabris are fighting that.

“The fact is these malls are a lifeline for the East African community. I am the only one who has ever spoken about their exploitation.”


Rep. Ellison, Rep. Emmer, and Colleagues Introduce Resolution Condemning Terror Attack in Mogadishu



WASHINGTON — On the one-month anniversary of the October 14th terror attack on Mogadishu, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), along with Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Karen Bass (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Denny Heck (D-WA) introduced House Resolution 620, which condemns the attack, expresses sympathy for its victims and their families, and reaffirms U.S. support for Somalia.

The October 14th terror attack killed more than 350 people, including three American citizens, and injured another 200—making it the single deadliest in Somalia’s history.

“It’s been a month since the terrible and cowardly attack on Mogadishu, and my heart still breaks for the people of Somalia and their families and friends here in the United States,” Ellison said. “The people of Somalia have shown incredible resilience— coming together not only as part of an inspiring effort to recover from this attack, but also to rebuild their nation in the spirit of peace and prosperity. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to express solidarity with the people of Somalia by strongly condemning the senseless violence, extending our condolences to all those affected by the attack, and reaffirming continued U.S. support for Somalia.”

“Just over a month ago, Mogadishu experienced a horrific and tragic terrorist attack,” said Emmer. “This attack hit close to home with three of our fellow Americans – including one Minnesotan – among the more than 350 men, women and children who lost their lives far too soon. I stand with my colleagues and the Somali community to condemn last month’s attack. I am proud to work with my colleagues to offer condolences and lend support as Somalia works to rebuild itself and its communities in the wake of this recent tragedy. Today, and every day, we stand against terror and join together to rid this world of evil.”
The full text of the resolution reads as follows:

“Strongly condemning the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017, and expressing condolences and sympathies to the victims of the attack and their families.

Whereas on October 14, 2017, a truck bomb filled with military grade and homemade explosives detonated at a busy intersection in the center of Mogadishu, Somalia, and took the lives of more than 350 people and injured more than 200 additional people;

Whereas at least three Americans, Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, were killed in the attack;

Whereas the Somali Government believes that Al-Shabaab was responsible for the attack, although no official claims of responsibility have yet been made;

Whereas Al-Shabaab has previously avoided claiming responsibility for Al Shabaab operations when it believes the operation may significantly damage its public image among Somalis;

Whereas the Department of State condemned ‘‘in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks that killed and injured hundreds in Mogadishu on October 14’’;

Whereas the Department of State stated that ‘‘the United States will continue to stand with the Somali government, its people, and our international allies to combat terrorism and support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity’’;

Whereas according to the Department of State’s Country Report on Terrorism for 2016, Al-Shabaab is the most potent threat to regional stability in East Africa;

Whereas the United States continues to support counterterrorism efforts in coordination with the Government of Somalia, international partners, and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mainly through capacity building programs, advise and assist missions, and intelligence support;

Whereas Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared three days of national mourning in response to the attack;

Whereas the vibrant, bustling district of Mogadishu where the attack occurred is characteristic of the city’s revitalization, and the solidarity and efforts by the city’s residents to rebuild already are a testament to their resilience; and

Whereas Somalia has been a strong partner to the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017;

(2) expresses its heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies for the victims of the attack and their families;

(3) honors the memories of Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, who were murdered in the horrific terrorist attack;

(4) recognizes the significant efforts to combat terrorism by the Government of Somalia, the countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia, and United States forces in Somalia;

(5) reaffirms United States support for the Government of Somalia’s efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity and combat terrorism in Somalia; and

(6) renews the solidarity of the people and Government of the United States with the people and Government of Somalia.”

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Fartun Ahmed is first Somali-American woman elected to a school board in the country



LAKESHORE WEEKLY — HOPKINS — Fartun Ahmed was elected to Hopkins school board Tuesday Nov. 7, making her the first Somali woman in the country to be elected to a school board and the second to be elected to public office.

She campaigned as part of a bloc with Chris LaTondresse and Jen Westmoreland-Bouchard under the message that every family in the school district should be able to access the resources they need to understand the system.

Campaigning against Steve Semler and Kevin Bennett, the bloc won the three open seats. Turnout was nearby double that of two years ago — 21,501 people voted for school board candidates in this year’s election; 12,159 votes were cast in 2015.

“It shows our district is ready to move forward,” Ahmed said. “It shows our district is open to connecting and engaging with someone despite the differences they may have.”

The three campaigned as a tight ensemble. They door-knocked every weekend in October, met with students and attended school board meetings. Neighborhoods even organized gatherings to meet the candidates.

People frequently recognized who they were upon opening the door, Barb Westmoreland said. Westmoreland is the mother of board member-elect Westmoreland-Bouchard. She described how Fartun felt after a day of door-knocking:

“For many of these people, they just had a lot of questions. They were really curious; they wanted to talk with a Muslim woman who wears a hijab,” Westmoreland said.

Ahmed, 26, was born in Somalia and moved to the United States when she was 3. With her family, she moved around Minnesota for a while before settling in Hopkins. As the oldest of eight children, Ahmed was the first in her immediate family to attend school.

She finished high school in 2009 with a GPA of 4.0 and moved on to study at Metropolitan State University. During her undergraduate years, Ahmed was appointed to committees formed by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. Later, she obtained a full-ride dual masters from the University of Chicago.

“She’s a standard bearer for her family,” Westmoreland said. “First one to go to college, she has a master’s degree … for her to come back to this community and say ‘I really want to be a part of it and I want to make it better,’ I just admire her so much for these values.”

Ahmed is grateful for Hopkins Schools and the resources the district provided for her family when she entered schools, she said.

“It shows you what America is that my parents — who had no idea, who had never went to school, who don’t even know how to read or write in Somali — can raise this daughter who can be elected to a political position in an office,” she said, “and that’s what America is.”

However, despite the district’s efforts, the resources at hand right now don’t match the need for the 45 percent who are students of color, Ahmed said.

Working as an executive director at her family’s Family Resource and Childcare Center gave her insight. Family after family came in, addled in trying to navigate the school system. Many families with whom she spoke changed their minds to stay in Hopkins, but others left to open-enroll in neighboring districts.

Leaders in the community should understand the issues varying community members are facing, Ahmed said.

On the day before the election, Ahmed’s 8-year-old sister wrote her a letter for good luck, saying she looks up to her oldest sister.

“I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this is because I want her to grow up in a community where she knows her leaders and people will listen to her and people will respect her,” Ahmed said.

The campaign results proved that people underestimate their own community, she said. Hopkins was ready for leaders in public office who reflected a cross-section of the community.

Westmoreland said the relationships the trio formed with voters throughout the past several months will propel them into office.

“I feel a great sense of hope,” Westmoreland said, “and I think a lot of other people do, too. Everybody’s looking for goodness in our own community, that we really want to work together to make sure everyone’s life here is good and going well.”

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Scared liar Alex Jones: U.S. has ‘colonized Minnesota with Somalis’ [VIDEO]



CITY PAGES — On Monday, legendary Hollywood shitheel James Woods tweeted a video depicting Somalis at the Mall of America.

Are these things connected?


This we learned from a nine-minute clip from Alex Jones, a disturbingly popular conspiracist who has never let the fact that everything he says is a lie detract from the fact that it would be scary if it was true.

After showing the same clip James Woods had posted, Jones begins: “Mall of America yesterday…”

Wrong. The video’s timing is unclear, but it was almost certainly taken during Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday which many Somali Minnesotans celebrate with a trip to the Mall of America. This year, Eid al-Adha fell on August 31 and September 1, which is only “yesterday” if you, like Alex Jones, have been awake for the last 10 weeks.

Here’s an NPR story (from 2006) about why Muslims go to the mall to celebrate Eid.

Hold us, we’re scared.

Ahem. Continue, Alex.

“Mall of America yesterday was about 95 percent Somali…”

Wrong. This one small part of the Mall of America (the Nickelodeon Universe) appears to be heavily Somali or East African… during a very brief clip… recorded, again, on a day when Muslims traditionally gather at the mall. The Mall of America is enormous, though: 500-something stores spread out over 4.9 million square feet of space.

This video shows a couple hundred people. The Mall of America averages more than 100,000 visitors a day. Most are white.

Anyway, sorry to cut you off again Alex, continue.

“Mall of America yesterday was about 95 percent Somali. Now, that’s the main area where they’ve been resettling for 40-plus years…”

Wrong. The vast majority of Somali-Americans emigrated to the United States (and Minnesota, specifically) as refugees from a civil war … during the 1990s. That’s not 40 years ago.

OK, sorry Alex. Proceed.

“Now, that’s the main area where they’ve been resettling for 40-plus years. The U.S. Government has been bringing Muslims in, from the most suppressive, most radical Muslim nation…”

Wrong. Those are subjective assertions to begin with, but, while Somalia is essentially tied for dead last in freedoms, it’s down there with countries — Saudia Arabia, Yemen — the U.S. considers its allies.

As for “most radical,” Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan — again, all U.S. allies — suffer more terrorist attacks than Somalia. And most terrorists or would-be terrorists who target America are from… America.

OK Alex, go on.

“The U.S. Government has been bringing Muslims in, from the most suppressive, radical Muslim nation, where women are sold at slave auctions to this day…”

Not wrong, per se, but misleading as hell. Jones is almost certainly referring to sex slavery as practiced by Al-Shabaab militants, a group which consists of maybe 9,000 people — in a country of 14 million.

The way Jones phrases it makes it sound like slave auctions in Somalia are sanctioned, and happening everywhere, all the time. It’d be like describing the United States as a “nation where people get shot at country music concerts,” or a “nation where people live in St. Cloud, Minnesota.”

Is there… more?

“The U.S. Government has been bringing Muslims in, from the most suppressive, radical Muslim nation, where women are sold at slave auctions to this day. It has the highest murder rate in the world…”


“It has the highest murder rate in the world, and women are seen as, basically, animals. Now, our government, as part of the diversity VISA program, has colonized Minnesota with Somalis.”

Oh, fuck this. This is going to take all day. Imagine how exhausting it would be if the people who watch Alex Jones — or feed this hokum into his teleprompter — cared whether what he said was even remotely true.

You can watch this clip if you want, but please, go in knowing virtually every single thing in Jones says is either provably incorrrect, or has been twisted beyond recognition into something pointy, which he then waves right in front of his terrified viewers’ bug-eyes. At one point Jones starts talking about “drag queen festivals.” At another, he calls Abdiraham — Jones calls him “Adderdam” (wrong), then “Abababa” (wrong) — “our new Somali God.” Then he says the word “zero” 16 times in a row. It’s… well, it’s pretty much like every other Alex Jones clip.

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