Privacy SOS

Abdikarim Mohamed (a pseudonym) is a Somali businessman. He says he gets audited every two years by the IRS and the State Bank Division, even though there never have been any violations on his part. 

He says that his lifeline is being able to transfer money to Somalia. People depend on his business to send money back home. He started in 2004, after Al Barakat had its assets frozen because, it was alleged, of links to terrorism.

“Since 2005, I have been a client of Citizens Bank. Then, all of a sudden, my account was closed with no reason given. I tried to contact them but no one was listening. I contacted Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and he said it was bank policy and they can’t tell them what to do. I contacted the State Bank Division and they said the same thing. I tried to contact City Councilor Mike Ross, but he never got back to me. I need to know why the account was closed. Fleet Bank did the same thing previously and the Bank of America has refused to open an account for my money transfer business.”

Last summer he went abroad for ten days. On the way back he was held for three hours at Logan Airport.  He was asked what tribe he was from in Somalia, and what side he supports. 

“They were checking through my bags and they asked, why did you go there? What is your business? They took my wallet and laptop bag. They opened my suitcase and briefcase. I had a card in my wallet of an FBI agent I had met at a law enforcement meeting. When they saw that card, they called the FBI officer. He came to the airport and apologized that I had to go through all of this.”

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.