At least six men who allegedly took part in a massive scheme to defraud the federal government by stealing food aid funds have donated to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s re-election campaign.
The men are linked to the Safari Restaurant and Event Center, a popular dining and dining venue in south Minneapolis. Safari is believed to be a major player in the larger scam surrounding Feeding Our Future, according to a federal warrant unsealed Jan. 21 in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.
Federal investigators believe the nonprofit organization defrauded the US government of millions of dollars intended to feed low-income children in Minnesota.
In the search warrant, FBI investigators named Safari owners and affiliates, including 20 people, suspected of fraudulently raising millions through Feeding our Future. And he set up a web of shell companies and expenses for items like a $2.8 million mansion in Minneapolis, a $950,000 house in Plymouth and an $87,000 pickup truck.
The Sahan Journal reviewed the federal search warrant, business documents filed with the Minnesota Secretary of State, and campaign finance records to compare names, addresses, and identifying information of individuals.
Six of the men named in the warrant donated $1,000 each to Frey’s 2021 re-election campaign — the maximum amount allowed by state law — between July 26 and July 27, 2021, records show. campaign finance deposited in Hennepin County. Their donations represent a small portion of the overall Frey campaign fundraising, which totaled $676,271 in 2021.
None of the men named in the warrant have been charged with criminal activity related to Feeding Our Future. The donations listed in campaign disclosure materials were not alleged to violate any state or federal laws.
Contacted by Sahan Journal, the mayor’s communications adviser referred the questions to the campaign. Frey’s campaign manager did not immediately respond to questions about campaign donations.
Among those named in the search warrant and campaign finance disclosures is Abdikadir Mohamud. In December 2021, Mayor Frey named Abdikadir to its Minneapolis Community Safety Task Force. According to a December press release from the mayor’s office, Frey created the group to bring together 35 leaders with varying perspectives from across the city to develop recommendations on public safety and police accountability in Minneapolis.
Frey’s announcement of the task force came on the heels of a tense campaign, in which the mayor fought a ballot effort to replace the Minneapolis police department with a public safety department. (The ballot measure did not pass.)
The mayor’s office did not respond to a question about why Frey appointed Abdikadir to this task force. Mayor Frey is not named in the mandate of the Feeding Our Future inquiry.
The federal warrant identifies Abdikadir Mohamud as the owner of Stigma-Free International — a nonprofit organization originally formed and led by Minneapolis City Council member Jamal Osman, according to state filings — and alleges he made false statements about the supply of 2,000 meals a day to Willmar in August 2021.
He also founded Tunyar Trading, according to the warrant, an alleged front company the group used to launder nutrition money. (In a statement to the Sahan Journal, Jamal said he parted ways with Stigma-Free before the time of the alleged fraud. State records show he was removed from his “founding” position. of the organization in October 2020.)
Two other people named in the mandate, Abdulkadir Nur Salah and Salim Said, also appear in campaign records as Mayor Frey’s donors. The warrant identifies the two as owners of the Safari restaurant. The men allegedly used stolen nutrition funds to purchase a $2.8 million mansion in Minneapolis that serves as an office building.
Salim Said also bought a $950,000 house in Plymouth and an $87,000 van with the cash, according to the warrant.
Mayor Frey’s office has confirmed that Abdulkadir Nur Salah is the brother of Abdi Salah, a senior political aide to the mayor.
Safari’s links to Feeding Our Future
On January 20, the FBI raided the offices of Feeding Our Future, which received federal funds intended to feed underprivileged children and adults. In 2018, the St. Anthony-headquartered nonprofit said it received $300,000 in federal funds. By 2021, that amount had jumped to a total of $244 million.
The Minnesota Department of Education, which administers federal funding for Feeding Our Future, reported information to the FBI that sparked the eight-month investigation. Authorities say three Feeding Our Future employees participated in the fraud, including executive director Aimee Bock.
Bock, Feeding Our Future and its lawyers did not respond to phone calls, emails and text messages from Sahan Journal seeking comment. No charges have been brought against those involved in the Feeding Our Future investigation.
Feeding Our Future is accused of using multiple contractors and organizations to defraud the program. One of the biggest is allegedly Safari Restaurant and Event Center, which authorities say received $15 million earmarked to feed children between May 2020 and November 2021.
Bock personally intervened when the state initially denied Safari’s application to participate in the program; the Minnesota Department of Education cited a federal policy against approving new sites, according to the mandate.
In the fall of 2020, the Minnesota Department of Education suspected Safari of tampering with its reimbursement orders. The group claimed to feed more than 5,000 children a day, more than St. Paul’s public schools, and state officials terminated its participation in the program.
Feeding Our Future filed a lawsuit, claiming the state was not handling the claims properly. The money continued to flow into Safari as the legal process unfolded.
But the FBI believes most of that $15 million ended up in the pockets of Safari-related businesses, many of which are linked to men who donated to Frey’s campaign.
Safari front companies funneled funds
Several people affiliated with Safari allegedly set up businesses that were used to funnel money taken from the program into spending on real estate, cars and other items.
That effort included multiple people, including donors to Frey’s campaign, according to the search warrant and campaign fundraising records.
Safari co-owner Abdulkadir Nur Salah appears in the warrant as the signer of a corporate bank account that received $6.2 million in federal nutrition funding. The account transferred $1.1 million to a group of four companies owned by Safari partners and affiliates, according to the search warrant.
The companies are owned by Abdulkadir Nur Salah, Salim Said, Abdihakim Ali Ahmed and Ahmed Ghedi. The four are among six men who donated $1,000 to the Frey campaign in July 2021.
Sahan Journal attempted to call and email the men listed in the warrant, and received no responses to messages seeking comment. Sahan Journal contacted Abdihakim Ali Ahmed, but hung up after a reporter identified himself.
The Safari account controlled by Abdulkadir Nur Salah transferred an additional $1.9 million to two companies, Tunyar Trading and Horseed Management, both of which held supplier contracts to provide food at Feeding Our Future sites, according to the mandate.
Tunyar Trading is owned by Abdikadir Mohamud and Horseed Management is owned by Abdinasir Abshir. Both men donated $1,000 to Frey’s campaign.
Donor to mayor’s security group runs company which reportedly received $3.9m through shell company
Abdikadir Mohamud is listed as the owner of several companies, including Tunyar Trading, according to state business records. One is called TH Security Group, a fact featured in the mayor’s announcement of appointees to the Minneapolis Community Safety Task Force.
Security Group TH the official site is filled with latin filler text and the phone number is not in service. Tunyar Trading and TH Security Group have the same official registered address in Fridley, according to state records.
Investigators believe Tunyar Trading is a front company used to launder money to Safari associates, according to the warrant. Tunyar Trading received transfers totaling $3.9 million in 2021 from Safari and related companies, including Stigma-Free International.
According to state records obtained from the Office of the Secretary of State, TH Security Group was officially dissolved on January 26, 2022, after the company failed to file for renewal.
Additional reporting by Joey Peters.