A Muslim wife and daughter in Buffalo, New York, shouted, “F— America!” and raised their middle fingers at television cameras after their family member was convicted of a major food-stamp scam.
Ahmed Alshami, the husband and father of the two women hurling expletives and making obscene gestures, is not a U.S. citizen. A Facebook page appearing to belong to Alshami indicates he is from Sanaa, Yemen.
Alshami owns a Buffalo deli called IGA Community Express Mart and has been convicted of third-degree burglary and second-degree possession of public benefit cards.
After the court hearing, Alshami’s wife, Nadia Alhaj, and daughter exited the building. His daughter flipped off reporters while Alhaj shouted, “Are you happy now? F— you! F— America! F— it!”
Buffalo’s WKBW-TV 7 reported Alshami now faces possible deportation and up to 14 years in prison. His next court date is set for Oct. 20.
Investigators say Alshami paid off customers in exchange for their Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, cards. Then Alshami would take the cards to large retail outlets such as Walmart to buy items for his deli. His purchases totaled nearly $4,000. Alshami is reportedly being held on $2 million bail.
Acting District Attorney Michael Flaherty told TWC News, “He would effectively use taxpayer money to buy provisions for his own store and sell them at retail, so he had an incredible competitive advantage over other stores in the area because the taxpayer was in essence underwriting the cost of him doing business.”
Alshami was also convicted of third-degree burglary.
“Police said he went inside a vacant house and stole kitchen cabinets, a hot-water tank and a baseboard heating unit,” Buffalo’s WKBW-TV 7 reported.
Officials believe the man took the items to his deli for reuse or to sell them.
Buffalo Council Member Richard Fontana, who lives near Alshami’s deli, told WKBW-TV 7 there has been a great deal of illegal activity at the store.
“He was essentially the worst store owner I’ve seen in my 20 years at City Hall,” Fontana told the station.
In 2015, concerns were raised about alleged drug activity surrounding Alshami’s store. The deli owner made local headlines after he posted the following message on Facebook:
“From the Davey & Ludington store owners … The people who sit here and say they want the store shut down are the same people buying wraps to smoke weed … We will stay open regardless of what you want … Long stay the Arab stores … We are gonna stay here and make this money! So try to shut us down.”
WIVB-TV 4 reported that Alshami had been arrested in 2015 and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police reportedly discovered crack cocaine beside him in the back seat of a car.
As for the food-stamp scam, Fontana said Alhaj may be charged as well.
“We think we might be able to make a case now where she was illegally benefiting from his illegal actions within her business,” Fontana told TWC News.
A YouTube video of the Alshami family antics generated a fiery response from the online community. Many of the nearly 300 comments are too obscene to post, but some included:
- “They said ‘F— America’ when they got off the boat. And they did.”
- “Why is he here? How did he get here? Why isn’t this family being deported right now?”
- “I am extremely happy! Glad he got caught. I hope he and his family get deported to whatever s—hole they came from. They were only here to abuse whatever they could. ‘F— you all, f— America”? OK, leave.”
- “A one-way ticket back to Yemen is perfect.”