Somalis living in the Twin Cities are begging Minnesota’s elected officials to help find a way to safely wire money back to families living in the Horn of Africa after a California bank abruptly ceased wiring cash to the troubled country over the weekend.

The decision by Merchants Bank to stop that part of its operations last Friday caught Somalis, who use money service businesses to wire money abroad, off-guard in communities across the United States.

The move to halt transfers to Somalia comes in the wake of a cease-and-desist order issued last year by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of Currency. According to that order, Merchants could not adequately prove all the money being wired from the U.S. was going to legitimate sources abroad. Treasury officials worry about American-based foreign nationals helping finance jihadist groups, including Somalia-based Al-Shabab, which is among the world’s most dangerous terrorist groups.

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