With boldly anti-Semitic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar making news this week –- along with the conflicted Democrats in Congress who ultimately found it impossible to condemn her anti-Semitism –- I thought it might be good to do a little research and find out more about her.
Going back to October of 2018, shortly before the election that took her to Congress as one of the first two Muslim women ever elected, we find that even then, several questions had followed her about her campaign finances, truthfulness under oath, and even her marriages, with allegations of bigamy and even that she was legally married to her brother for a short time for the purpose of committing immigration fraud. These are issues that first arose in 2016, when she was running for her seat in the Minnesota state legislature.
Before we take a look at these allegations, I do want to mention that her reaction at the time was to call conservatives racists and to play the “Muslim” card, both of which are really getting tiresome. She issued a statement that read in part, “We recognize how these folks are deeply invested in stopping a progressive, Black, Muslim, hijab-wearing immigrant woman. We know these people are part of systems that have historically been disturbingly motivated to silence, discredit and dehumanize influencers who threaten the establishment.” Well, thanks so much Ms. Omar, for attempting to silence, discredit and dehumanize (“part of systems”?) your critics, while failing to address the legitimate questions they have about your background.
Omar wouldn’t offer specifics or provide any documentation to support her denials, saying in a statement, “We choose not to further the narrative of those who oppose us.” Hmm...does that mean her explanations and documentation WOULD “further the narrative”?
To be clear, I am not accusing this new member of Congress of immigration fraud, bigamy or campaign finance violations. I am saying that there’s an enduring mystery and a disturbing lack of transparency here, especially about the identification of her second husband, who may or may not be her brother. I’ll tell you what we know.
It was a Republican state representative, Steve Drazkowski, who accused her of misusing campaign funds for personal travel. (One of her trips was to the far-flung nation of Estonia, where it’s kind of doubtful that she would be campaigning.) Omar played the “Muslim” card then, too, saying of Drazkowski that “it should be concerning to his constituents that he is using taxpayer dollars to harass a Muslim candidate.”
We get it. She’s Muslim. Don’t ask the questions you would normally ask of any other candidate.
She did present a timeline for her marriages, and marriage and divorce records are in the public record. What appears to be bigamy may, technically, not be, as much of the time she was apparently “married,” it was according to her faith but not according to state law. Long story short, she was “married” to one man, then another, then the first man again; the “overlap” may have been during periods she was not married according to the law (or to her faith; pick one). It really does get complicated when you’re using two systems of law, which is one reason why we shouldn't do that.
It’s the in-between man whose identity is unclear. The name on the marriage certificate is “Ahmed Nur Said Elmi,” a man she claims was a British citizen. If this man was legally married to her and she was already a naturalized U.S. citizen, it would have helped him get a green card in America. Marriage fraud, a federal crime, is punishable by up to five years in prison.
So, we ought to be able to clear this up right away, just by filing a Freedom Of Information Act request for Omar’s immigration records, right? Wrong! When this was tried, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services refused to provide the information, saying that records of individuals couldn’t be released without written permission from those people. To date, she has not granted this authorization, and I think I speak for all of us when I ask, WHY IN BLAZES NOT? Also, according to her campaign, she can’t produce her birth certificate or those of family members (such as her brother) because “the infrastructure collapsed” during the Somali civil war, which was going on when she emigrated from that country at age 8. She has opted not even to provide a list of her siblings’ names.
Omar did deny in 2016 that this second husband was her brother. “Insinuations that Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is my brother are absurd and offensive,” she said in a statement. The AP tried to locate and speak with Elmi, but their efforts were (surprise) unsuccessful.
Her immigration status could have been looked into at that time, considering that she was running for office and all, but then-U.S. Attorney Andy Luger, an Obama appointee, wrote to Omar’s attorney that his office wasn’t conducting an investigation and hadn’t requested one. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought they didn’t normally confirm or deny ongoing investigations.
In 2017, Omar said in sworn divorce papers that she hadn’t had contact with Elmi (husband #2) since June of 2011, and that she thought he was in London but couldn’t reach him. But conservative bloggers turned up a picture of her with a man also named Ahmed Elmi at an event held years later. If that’s the same man, it would mean she perjured herself about the whereabouts of husband #2 (illegal whether he really is her brother or not).
The man in the picture was located, but he denied he knew Ilhan Omar and said he had not been married. When the AP tried to reach him by phone, social media and email, he did not respond. But when you compare the backgrounds of Omar and this “stranger” in the photo, you find some amazing coincidences: they both attended North Dakota State University during an overlapping period, they both majored in art, and it can be established that this “Elmi” and the “Elmi” known to be Omar’s husband were both in Minneapolis at the same time.
To be sure, Rep. Omar has been through some tough experiences in her life and has come a long way to achieve what she has. When she was just a child, her family fled Somalia during a vicious civil war. They spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp with tens of thousands of other displaced people. When she was 12, the family was sponsored to move to the United States, and they eventually settled in Minnesota in 1997. She has said her grandfather inspired her interest in politics. To be fair, she’s been subjected to anti-Muslim prejudice, which was pretty widespread post-9/11.
But that does not excuse her own obvious prejudice against Jews and Israel, especially as she is now a member of Congress. She also has a responsibility to be honest about her motives, her finances, and her naturalization process.
This is what she said when she was first running for office in 2016 and facing the various challenges to her honesty and good faith: “I remain honored to be a part of a campaign that is uniting the diverse voices of our district --- long term residents, East African immigrants and students.” I find this interesting because many Jews contribute to the diversity in her district as well. Does she speak for them, too?
Jim Geraghty at NATIONAL REVIEW offers a nicely detailed account, including some of the tweets that have already distinguished the fledgling congresswoman. Congress has shown itself unable to deal with the obvious, but we know what to call it.