Ilhan Omar

individual
© Image Copyright : Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: Kristie Boyd; U.S. House Office of Photography

Overview

Background The youngest of seven siblings, Ilhan Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1982. After civil war broke out there in 1991, she and her family fled to a refugee camp in Kenya, where they spent four years before migrating to America. Omar later attended North Dakota State University, where she joined the campus Muslim Students


Background

The youngest of seven siblings, Ilhan Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1982. After civil war broke out there in 1991, she and her family fled to a refugee camp in Kenya, where they spent four years before migrating to America. Omar later attended North Dakota State University, where she joined the campus Muslim Students Association and eventually earned a degree in Political Science and International Studies.

After completing her formal education, Omar worked as a community nutrition educator in the Greater Minneapolis–Saint Paul area from 2006-09. In 2012 she served as campaign manager for Democrat Kari Dziedzic’s bid for re-election to the Minnesota State Senate, and also began a brief stint as a child nutrition outreach coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Education. From 2013-15, Omar was a senior policy aide to Minneapolis City Council member Andrew Johnson.

Aside from her political endeavors, Omar has served variously as an Advisory Board member for CAIR-Minnesota, Vice President of the Minneapolis NAACP, a Sister Planet Ambassador for Oxfam, a Board member of the Legal Rights Center, and the Director of Policy & Initiatives at the Women Organizing Women Network.

Political Career

In 2016 Omar ran for the Minnesota House of Representatives on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party ticket. Soon after her victory in the primary that summer, she faced highly credible allegations that – in an effort to perpetrate immigration fraud and/or student loan fraud – she had married her own brother, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, in 2009 and was still legally his wife. Seven years before that, in 2002, Omar had married a first husband, Ahmed Aden, the father of her three children. When Minnesota attorney Scott Johnson looked into the matter and asked Omar’s campaign to clarify the facts, Minneapolis criminal-defense attorney Jean Brandle responded on the candidate’s behalf: “There are people who do not want an East African, Muslim woman elected to office and who will follow Donald Trump’s playbook to prevent it. Ilhan Omar’s campaign sees your superfluous contentions as one more in a series of attempts to discredit her candidacy.” When Omar eventually petitioned to divorce Elmi in 2017, she made a number of demonstrably false claims, including an assertion that she had not had any contact with him since June 2011.

In 2018, Omar married her third husband, Ahmed Hirsi. But in June 2019 it was learned that: (a) Omar and Hirsi together had filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015, while Omar was still legally married to Elmi, and (b) Omar and Hirsi had lived together during the entire time that she was married to Elmi.

Omar was elected to the Minnesota House in November 2016, capturing 80.59% of the vote.

Omar vehemently opposed a January 2017 executive order by which President Donald Trump tried to place a temporary moratorium on the issuance of visas for people seeking to travel to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim nations that were hotbeds of Islamic terrorism. The following month, she was a key participant in a meeting whose purpose was to condemn Trump’s immigration policies and to “form a Sanctuary City Task Force to better protect and defend undocumented families, Muslim residents and refugees.” At one point during the proceedings, Omar said: “This ban on refugees is rooted in racism and Islamophobia.”

In 2018, Omar ran for the 5th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives — the seat formerly held by Keith Ellison. That district contained an estimated 100,000 people of Somali heritage, making it by far the largest such community in the United States.[1]

Omar’s congressional campaign was supported by Our Revolution (closely affiliated with Bernie Sanders) and the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which held three fundraising events on Omar’s behalf in distant southern California.

In October 2018, the Minnesota Sun reported that there was “probable cause” to believe that Omar and her 2016 campaign committee had committed “at least three separate [campaign finance] violations, including the alleged use of campaign funds to pay off legal fees related to her divorce.” When the Associated Press asked Omar about this – and about the allegation that she had committed immigration fraud by marrying her brother in an effort to help him obtain citizenship – she characterized the accusations as “disgusting lies” promoted by politicians who were “deeply invested in stopping a progressive, black, Muslim, hijab-wearing, immigrant woman.” Added Omar: “We know these people are part of systems that have historically been disturbingly motivated to silence, discredit, and dehumanize influencers who threaten the establishment.” With regard to the campaign-finance charges specifically, Omar simply said that she was choosing “not to further the narrative of those who oppose us.” In a tweet about the allegations, Omar attributed them to “hate groups” who “have one mission, to stop Muslims.”

On November 6, 2018, Omar won her congressional race, capturing 78% of the vote. Upon taking office in the U.S. House, she promptly joined the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She was also appointed by her Democrat colleagues to the prestigious House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In January 2019, Omar publicly commented on an incident that occurred following the anti-abortion “March For Life” in Washington, D.C., when numerous media outlets falsely accused a group of Catholic male high-school students who had attended the March — a few of whom were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats signifying their support for President Trump — of: (a) surrounding and menacing a nearby elderly Native American activist/Vietnam War veteran named Nathan Phillips; (b) hurling racist chants at Phillips; (c) taunting a group of black men who were also in the vicinity; (d) shouting “it’s not rape if you enjoy it”; and (e) shouting “Build the wall!” (a reference to Trump’s proposed construction of a border wall). Regarding these alleged events, Omar tweeted: “The boys were protesting a woman’s right to choose & yelled ‘it’s not rape if you enjoy it’ – They were taunting 5 Black men before they surrounded Phillips and led racist chants….” But video evidence subsequently showed that: (a) the Catholic youngsters had not made any of the offensive remarks originally attributed to them; (b) Phillips, who never actually served in Vietnam, had walked purposefully into the middle of the group of boys and stared down one of them while banging a drum and chanting just a few inches from the boy’s face; and (c) the nearby black men were in fact members of a racist, anti-Semitic cult known as the Black Hebrew Israelites, and they had been hurling racial and homophobic epithets at the boys. Upon becoming aware of these facts, Omar quietly deleted her tweet without any explanation or apology.

In a January 30, 2019 interview with Yahoo News, Omar was asked how the Democrats’ so-called “Green New Deal” — which called for the complete elimination of fossil fuels from the American economy by 2013 — could be adequately funded. She replied: “So there are a few things that we could do. One of them is that we could increase the taxes that people are paying who are the extremely wealthy in our communities. Seventy percent, 80 percent, we’ve had it as high as 90 percent. So that’s a place we can start. The one percent must pay their fair share…. The other thing we can do is we can tax corporations or have them level out the gap that exists with their workers.” Moreover, Omar called for steep cuts in the U.S. military budget: “I’m also one that really looks at the defense budget that we have. That has increased nearly 50 percent since 9/11. And so, most of the money that we have in there is much more than with we spend on education, on healthcare.”

Shortly after Omar had criticized what she viewed as the excessively harsh immigration policies of former President Barack Obama in March 2019, a Fox News reporter asked whether she thought that “Obama is the same as President Trump.” She replied angrily: “Absolutely not. That is silly to even equate the two. One is human and one [Trump] is really not.”

During a May 2019 appearance on the Democracy Now! Radio program, Omar claimed that America’s “bullying and use of sanctions to eventually intervene and make regime change” in Venezuela had contributed significantly to that nation’s rapidly deteriorating political and economic conditions. Soon thereafter, Vice President Mike Pence – noting that Venezuelan president “Nicolas Maduro is a socialist dictator who has taken what was once one of the most prosperous nations in this hemisphere and brought it literally to a level of deprivation and oppression and poverty that we have never seen” — told Fox News anchor Sandra Smith that Venezuela’s decline “is not a result of U.S. policies,” and that Omar “doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”  In response, Omar tweeted: “Women of color have heard this before. Instead of ‘we disagree,’ it’s ‘she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.’ They have to make us feel small. This from an Administration that thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax.”

Speaking at a Netroots Nation conference in July 2019, Omar claimed that neither the Trump administration nor many Americans in general understood why so many migrants were coming to the U.S. illegally — i.e., “to make their children’s lives better and … their own lives better.” “And instead of us saying here is ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C,’ we’re saying there is zero option,” she continued. “And if you [migrants] ever think that you have a chance, we’re going to treat you worse than a dog. One of our [Congressional] members said to me, if there were dogs [instead of migrant children] in those cages, every single member of Congress would vote to make sure that all of these cages didn’t exist any more. So we live in a society and govern in a body that might value the life of a dog more than they value the life of a child who might not look like theirs.”

Omar’s Views Regarding Israel, Jews, & Islamism

Omar has long been a harsh critic of Israel. On November 16, 2012 – just a few days after Gaza-based Hamas terrorists had launched more than 150 deadly rockets into the Jewish state, prompting an Israeli military response – she tweeted that “the apartheid Israeli regime” had “hypnotized the world” in order to conceal its own “evil doings.”

In a 2013 interview on the Twin Cities PBS show Belahdan, Omar mocked Americans for the anxiety they felt about Islamic terrorists: “When I was in college, I took a terrorism class…. The thing that was interesting in the class was every time the professor said ‘Al Qaeda’ his shoulders went up.” She then chuckled as she imitated the professor saying “Al Qaeda” and “Hezbollah.” “But you know,” added Omar, “it is that you don’t say ‘America’ with an intensity, you don’t say ‘England’ with an intensity. You don’t say ‘the army’ with an intensity. But you say these names [Al Qaeda and Hezbollah] because you want that word to carry weight. You want it to leave something…. It’s said with a deeper voice.” (See video)

During her tenure with the Minneapolis City Council from 2013-15, Omar acknowledged that she was a friend of several young men who had joined al-Shabab, a Somali jihadist terror group allied with al-Qaeda, several years earlier. “They were happy young men,” said Omar. “And then at some point, something happened. And that is what needs to be researched and studied. What is happening to make them feel disconnected from a community that has birthed them, that has nurtured them?”

Over the years, Omar has given multiple interviews to the Arab-American television host Ahmed Tharwat, who: (a) characterizes Israel as the “Jewish ISIS,” and (b) has compared members of Hamas to victims of the Holocaust. In the wake of a 2013 Islamic terrorist bombing that killed nearly 70 people in a Kenyan shopping mall, Omar and Tharwat discussed how news of that attack may have affected the way Americans were treating Muslims in the United States. When Tharwat asserted that “terrorism is a reaction” to injustices inflicted by the U.S. and other antagonists, Omar agreed: “Yes…. Nobody wants to face how the actions of the other people that are involved in the world have contributed to the rise of the radicalization and the rise of terrorist acts. Usually most people want to not look internal and see what their actions that makes another react. For us [Americans], it’s always ‘I must have not done anything. Why is it happening to me?’ Nobody wants to take accountability of how these are byproducts of the actions of our involvement in other people’s affairs.”

A few days after her election to the Minnesota House of Representatives in November 2016, Omar wrote a letter asking a Minneapolis judge to be lenient in sentencing nine young Somali-born men who had been found guilty of attempting to join the terrorist group ISIS. In her letter, Omar maintained that long prison terms would ultimately lead to the tragedy of unproductive lives and unrealized potential for the perpetrators. “The desire to commit violence is not inherent to people,” she explained. “It is the consequence for [sic] alienation.”

In 2016 as well, Omar stated that she was in favor of completely divesting the University of Minnesota of its Israel bonds. The following year, she opposed a bill designed to counter economic boycotts targeting the Jewish state. While making her case against the 2017 legislation, Omar likened Israel to apartheid South Africa and said: “I know a little bit about discrimination. I face it every single day. I carry multiple identities that are constantly, constantly being discriminated against.” Indeed, Omar describes herself as an “intersectional feminist.” Intersectionality is the notion that the hardships experienced by people who are members of multiple groups that allegedly suffer societal injustices – e.g., blacks, Hispanics, women, LGBT people, Muslims, and the poor – greatly compound one another.

In 2017, Omar was one of only two Minnesota House members (out of 129) to vote against a bill to allow life-insurance companies to deny payouts to the beneficiaries of people who died while committing acts of terrorism.

That same year, she was one of just four House members to oppose legislation that would make it a felony for parents to subject their daughters to female genital mutilation, a common practice in some Muslim cultures.

During a Democratic primary debate which was held at a Minnesota synagogue in August 2018, Omar was asked to specify “exactly where you stand” on the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Hamas-inspired initiative aimed at financially crippling the state of Israel. Her reply made it clear that she viewed BDS as a counterproductive policy: “I believe right now with the BDS movement, it’s not helpful in getting that two-state solution. I think the particular purpose for [BDS] is to make sure that there is pressure, and I think that pressure really is counteractive. Because in order for us to have a process of getting to a two-state solution, people have to be willing to come to the table and have a conversation about how that is going to be possible and I think that stops the dialogue.”

Just five days after winning her congressional race on November 6, 2018, the publication Muslim Girl reported that Omar “believes in and supports the BDS movement.” When Lonny Goldsmith, the editor of the local Jewish news organization TC Jewfolk, asked Omar about the apparent discrepancy between her pre- and post-election stances, Omar replied in a text message: “My position has always been the same. I believe and supports (sic) the BDS movement, and have fought to make sure people right to support it isn’t criminalized, re: my vote against the [2017] Anti-BDS bill. I do however, have reservations on effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution. Which is what I believe I said at the forum.”

In a January 30, 2019 interview with Yahoo News, Omar said that America could help to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “by having an equal approach to dealing with both.” “[But] most of the things that have always been aggravating to me,” she added, “is that we have had a policy that makes one [Israel] superior to the other.” “And we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East, I almost chuckle because I know that if we see that any other society we would criticize it, call it out,” Omar continued. “We do that to Iran, we do that to any other place that sort of upholds its religion. And I see that now happening with Saudi Arabia and so I am aggravated, truly, in those contradictions.”

On January 31, 2019, Omar endorsed a series of tweets wherein liberal activist Max Berger made the following remarks about Israel: “The American Jewish establishment claims Israel is a democracy for all its citizens. But the nation state law classifies 1.6 million Palestinian Israelis as second class. And 4.7 million people live under Israeli military occupation or control without political or human rights…. Israel is like the south before 1963: millions of people under Israeli control are denied the right to vote, speak freely or assemble because of their ethnicity. It’s a democracy for Jews only. That’s not a real democracy.” In endorsing Berger’s assertions, Omar tweeted: “Many of them truly know this, but don’t want to accept it. In the same way many Americans knew separate yet equal was immoral but remained silent until brave few were silent no more. They can attack, spin my words and vilify me, but they will not succeed in silencing me.”

On February 10, 2019, Omar tweeted her opinion that the pro-Israel lobby organization AIPAC — an American entity that receives much funding from American Jews but no funding from the state of Israel — was guilty of paying U.S. politicians to be take positions favorable to Israel. “It’s all about the Benjamins [$100 bills], baby,” she wrote in a separate tweet quoting a 1997 rap song by Puff Daddy.

In February 2019 as well, Omar was scheduled to speak at a Tampa, Florida event sponsored by Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), the American branch of an international organization that has been designated as a terror financier by the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Israel. According to the Washington Examiner: “Russian authorities, the Swiss bank UBS, the British bank HSBC, and reports by governmental entities in Germany and Sweden all have determined that Islamic Relief has supported radical Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood.” One of the other scheduled speakers at the event was IRUSA’s “operations manager,” Yousef Abdallah, who has repeatedly used his social media accounts to denounce Jews and to laud acts of violence against them.

On March 7, 2019, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke praised Omar for her repeated expressions of disdain for Israel and the Jewish people. “By Defiance to Z.O.G. [Zionist Occupation Government]” he tweeted, “Ilhan Omar is NOW the most important Member of the US Congress!”

In March 2019 in Los Angeles, Omar was the keynote speaker at a Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) benefit event titled “Advancing Justice, Empowering Valley Muslims.” Sharing the stage with Omar was CAIR-Florida executive director Hassan Shibly, who rejects the notion that Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist organizations. At the same event, Omar said: “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people [the 9/11 terrorists] did something, and that all of us [Muslim civilians] were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.” (In fact, CAIR was founded in 1994, not 2001.)

In April 2019, Omar called for the release of Hoda Abdelmonem (a.k.a. Hoda Abdel Moneim and Hoda Abdelmoneim), a senior Muslim Brotherhood member who had been detained in Egypt since November 2018 as part of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s crackdown on the Brotherhood’s activities in his nation.

On May 25, 2019, Omar spoke at a sold-out CAIR fundraiser in Bellevue, Washington.

Further Reading for “Background” and “Political Career” Sections:
* “Ilhan Omar” (Keywiki.org & Ballotpedia.org)
* “Official School Records Support Claims That Rep. Ilhan Omar Married Her Brother” (PJ Media, 10-23-2018)
* “The Curious Case of Ilhan Omar” (by Scott Johnson, City Journal, 9-9-2016)
* “Ilhan Omar Filed Joint Tax Returns with Man She Wasn’t Married to” (Daily Caller, 6-12-2019).
* “New Documents Shed Light On Ilhan Omar’s Marriage To Her Alleged Brother” (Daily Wire, 6-23-2019).
* “Minneapolis City Council Condemns Trump Travel Ban” (Minnesota Daily, 2-7-2017)
* “Ilhan Omar Dismisses Allegations Surrounding Campaign As Islamophobic Smears” (Minnesota Sun, 10-20-2018)
* “Rep. Ilhan Omar Quietly Deletes Inaccurate Attack on Students from Covington Catholic” (Washington Examiner, 1-23-2019)
* “Rep. Ilhan Omar: Tax the Wealthy Up to 90 Percent, to ‘Pay Their Fair Share’” (LibertyHeadlines.com, 1-30-2019)
* “Ilhan Omar to Speak at Banquet for Group Known for Terrorist Group Support” (Jerusalem Post, 2-19-2019)
* “Democratic Congresswoman Fires Back at Mike Pence in Row over Venezuela” (Independent, 5-4-2019)
* “Controversy and Security Concerns Follow Ilhan Omar to Bellevue” (CrossCut.com, 5-26-2019)
* “Ilhan Omar Claims Americans Accept Migrant Children Being Treated ‘Worse Than a Dog’ Because [of] Racism” (TheBlaze.com, 7-14-2019)

Further Reading for “Omar’s Views Regarding Israel, Jews, & Islamism”
* “Dem Candidate Ilhan Omar Defending Tweet On ‘The Evil Doings Of Israel’” (Daily Wire, 10-28-2018)
* “Ilhan Omar, in Bizarre Clip, Jokes about People Saying ‘Al Qaeda’ in Menacing Tone” (Fox News, 4-12-2019).
* “Ilhan Omar Gave Interviews to Host Who Called Israel ‘Jewish ISIS’ and Compared Hamas to Holocaust Victims” (Daily Caller, 2-5-2019)
* “Representative-Elect Ilhan Omar Working to Change Somali-Terror Perception” (AlphanewsMN.com, 11-14-2016, re: letter to Minneapolis judge)
* “Omar and Lesch Only No Votes On Ending Terrorist Life Insurance Payouts” (AlphaNewsMN.com, 4-21-2017)
* “Muslim Trailblazer Ilhan Omar Admits She Backs BDS — Now That Election Is Over” (Forward.com, 11-13-2018)
* “Rep. Ilhan Omar Slammed for Saying She ‘Chuckles’ When Israel Is Called a Democracy, Compares It to Iran” (Fox News, 1-31-2019)
* “Rep. Ilhan Omar Targets Israel Again, Compares Jewish State to U.S. South During Segregation” (Fox News, 2-1-2019)
* “Ilhan Omar Has More Anti-Semitism on Her Schedule” (Washington Examiner, 2-12-2019, re: speech at IRUSA)
* “Ilhan Omar to Speak Alongside Charity Official Who Praised Killing of Jews” (Islamist Watch, 2-11-2019).
* “Ilhan Omar Demands Release of Muslim Brotherhood Senior Member” (Clarion Project, 4-4-2019).
* “Ilhan Omar Suggests Trump Is Not ‘Human’” (NY Post, 3-12-2019).

Footnotes

  1. According to Fox News: “[M]ore men and boys from a Somali American community in Minneapolis have joined – or attempted to join – a foreign terrorist organization over the last 12 years than any other jurisdiction in the country. FBI stats show 45 Somalis left to join the ranks of either the Somalia-based Islamic insurgency al-Shabab, or the Iraq- and Syria-based ISIS combined. And as of 2018, a dozen more had been arrested with the intention of leaving to support ISIS. Both numbers are far higher than those of alleged terrorist wannabes who left or attempted to leave the country from other areas in the country where Muslim refugees have been resettled.”

Additional Resources

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