By Jon Dougherty
Well, this makes perfect sense in a very awkward way.
You could say that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is a poster girl for the American Dream. An immigrant from the failed country of Somalia, Omar (who is Muslim) has managed a feat the vast majority of native-born Americans will never achieve: She’s become a member of Congress.
But in doing so, Omar’s very questionable, anti-Semitic past has caught up with her. She’s been called out now several times by Jewish-Americans and representatives of Israel for making comments in the past very disparaging of the Jewish faith.
The latest gaffe (or intentional sleight — you decide) came about a week ago when she openly suggested that certain members of Congress were supporters of Israel simply because they were paid off by a pro-Israel lobbying group.
VOA News noted:
She touched off a firestorm of complaints from Democratic and Republican leaders alike, including Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Omar’s comment invoked offensive tropes about money or “Benjamins” a reference to $100 bills — that are often used against Jewish people. Her remark was magnified because the freshman holds a coveted seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Omar has been accused of anti-Semitic language in previous tweets expressing support for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a movement that aims to end international support for Israel because of what the group calls “oppression of Palestinians.” Each time, Omar has apologized and said the controversy was an opportunity for her to learn.
“Opportunity to learn.” Whatever.
As bad as this is, according to the FBI perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Her district, Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, is the terrorist recruiting capital of the country.
Fox News reports that “more 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,” Fox News continued. “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.”
The network also noted that “the insular ethnic community in Minnesota offers a rich recruiting ground” for Islamic terrorism as the Somali population in the Minneapolis community — which is located in Omar’s district — is nearly 100,000.
“We are very conscious that there may still be fertile ground for that, and that is could re-start at any time,” one federal official told Fox News.
“Based on historical experience, we had (an uptick) in 2007 and 2008 going for al-Shabab, then a lull. Then, as ISIS came back, we saw a whole bunch of people no longer headed for Somalia. They were headed for Iraq and Syria,” the official noted.
“That really caught us off-guard, we didn’t see that coming. It didn’t make sense to us. We understood why kids were going back to Somalia, but going to Syria was another issue.”
Some tried to blow off the FBI’s stat by saying that of course terrorist recruitment is going to be high in Minnesota because it has a high Muslim population (talk about stereotyping!). But as Robin Simcox, a terrorism and national security expert at The Heritage Foundation, told the network:
“However, it is also because there have been small segments of the Somali community there that have struggled to integrate into the U.S. Al-Shabaab and ISIS have exploited this – upon religious, political cultural and identity issues to offer a compelling alternative to Western democracy.”
And let’s not ever forget that Omar is a representative; she’s representing the large Muslim population in her district.
Which helps explain previous ‘gaffes,’ such as in 2013, when she blamed America’s “involvement in other people’s affairs” for an al-Shabab terrorist attack on a Kenyan shopping mall that year which resulted in nearly 70 deaths and 200 wounded.
Oh, and during that interview, she yucked it up when discussing groups our government considers terrorist organizations: Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, the latter being the group that, you know, killed nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.
Calling out hate should be a non-partisan thing, but unfortunately, it’s not.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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