Lawmaker seeks to stop aid to Somali group in Twin Cities

  • Updated: April 21, 2009 - 8:52 PM

 

Twin Cities activist Omar Jamal said Tuesday he has helped ensure that a suspected pirate is treated justly while in federal custody in New York.

But if a Minnesota legislative leader has his way, it will be the last pirate Jamal helps.

Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul, said that he spoke Monday with the parents of suspected pirate Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse and that he has been consulting with Muse's attorneys. He said he intended to be in court Tuesday, but Muse's public defender said his presence wouldn't be necessary.

But House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, responding to "tons of e-mails" from people he said were outraged by Jamal's actions, said he will seek to block nonprofit status and state grants to any organization that helps foreign citizens accused of piracy or terrorism.

Seifert, who's planning to offer an amendment to the public safety finance bill this week, said he's trying to find out how much public money has gone to Jamal's center in the past three years. "I don't care if he gets $2 in subsidies, it's too much," he said. "Not one dime of taxpayer money if you jet off to New York to support a pirate."

Jamal said the parents reached out to his organization because his group has been involved in negotiations regarding a Nigerian ship taken by pirates.

PAUL WALSH, KEVIN DUCHSCHERE

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