- President Donald Trump echoed a persistent rumor about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, saying at a Thursday night rally in Minneapolis that Omar uses a “fake name,” and that she married her brother so he could enter the United States.
- Conservative bloggers have for years claimed that Omar’s second husband, a British citizen named Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, was her brother and that she married him to help him fraudulently gain a US green card.
- No hard evidence — like a birth certificate — has surfaced to prove that Elmi is Omar’s brother or that any fraud was committed, especially since he left the US after he and Omar separated in 2011.
- But Omar has still not explained some puzzling discrepancies and inconsistencies in her marriage history that raised questions about her marriages and have breathed life into allegations of fraud.
- Omar filed joint tax returns with her current husband, Ahmed Hirsi, while still legally married to Elmi.
- Hirsi and Omar also listed the same home address in public court records and temporarily relocated to North Dakota together while she was married to Elmi.
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Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was sworn into office this January, is one of the highest-profile freshman lawmakers and has found herself on the receiving end of a slew of incendiary attacks from President Donald Trump and some of his supporters — including a persistent conspiracy theory that she married her brother.
In July, Trump told Omar and three fellow Democratic congresswomen to “go back and fix the broken and crime-infested places from which they came” — even though all four were US citizens and Omar was the only one born outside the US. Then on Wednesday, much of the crowd at a Trump campaign rally in North Carolina chanted “send her back” after Trump gave an extended monologue criticizing her.
Omar, who was born in Somalia in 1982, came to America as a refugee with her father and siblings in 1995 by way of a Kenyan refugee camp and resettled in Minneapolis, where she became a US citizen. Omar was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016 and to Congress in 2018, one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress.
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At a Thursday night rally in Omar’s district in Minneapolis, Trump again praised the work of conservative blogger Scott Johnson, who was in attendance at the Minnesota rally. Johnson authors the Power Line blog and has written about Omar.
“Everything about Omar is a fraud, including her name,” Trump said to loud boos from the crowd. “Scott reports that his sources told him, that Omar’s legal husband was Omar’s brother, and that she married him for fraudulent purposes, you mean like, coming into the United States maybe?”
“As Scott says, we have seen a plethora of congressional scandals throughout our history but we have never seen scandals like Omar’s, and nothing gets done about it,’ Trump lamented.
—(((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) October 11, 2019
The unverified rumors that Omar married her brother originated from an anonymous user on a Somali-American internet forum in 2016, and they have circulated around the internet ever since.
Conservative bloggers have claimed that Omar’s second husband, a British citizen named Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, is her brother and that she married him to help him fraudulently gain a US green card.
Public documents contradict some of Omar’s story about her marriages
No hard evidence — like a birth certificate or other legal documents — has surfaced to prove that Elmi is Omar’s brother or that any fraud was committed.
But Omar has still not explained some puzzling discrepancies and inconsistencies in her marriage history that raise questions about her marriages and have breathed life into to allegations of fraud.
Omar released a lengthy statement when she first ran for office in 2016 to address the persistent rumors that she married her brother, which she called “absurd and offensive,” and gave the following timeline of her marriage history:
- She married her first and current husband, Ahmed Hirsi, in an Islamic faith ceremony in 2002 when she was 19, but the couple did not obtain a legal marriage certificate. The couple had two children together from 2002 to 2008.
- Omar and Hirsi split in 2008, also in a faith-based (not legal) proceeding.
- Omar legally married her second husband, Elmi, in 2009.
- Elmi and Omar separated just two years later, in 2011, but did not get a legal divorce. Elmi moved back to London.
- Omar and Hirsi got back together in 2012 and had their third child while Omar was separated from but still legally married to Elmi.
- Omar officially divorced Elmi in 2017 and legally married Hirsi in 2018.
- Earlier this month, Omar filed to legally divorce Hirsi, multiple outlets have reported. Omar’s divorce papers cite an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship” as the reason for the divorce.
Numerous public documents obtained and reported by news outlets including the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Washington Examiner cast doubt on Omar’s official timeline of her marriage and relationship history.
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As the Star Tribune reported in June, Omar filed joint tax returns with Hirsi in 2014 and 2015 while she was still legally married to Elmi, and she was fined by Minnesota’s campaign-finance watchdog for paying a lawyer with campaign funds to fix the mistake, since federal law prohibits people from filing joint returns with a person who is not their spouse.
At about the same time, the Examiner published a story reporting that in dozens of publicly available traffic violation and court records, Hirsi “listed his address at a single Cedar Riverside address consistently in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011,” the same address Omar listed in separate traffic-violation cases, including during the time he was split from Omar.
The Examiner further discovered a 2013 local news article that said “Omar and her husband, Ahmed Hirsi, moved to North Dakota so that Omar could finish her bachelor’s degree in political science” from 2009 to 2011, the exact time frame during which she was legally married to Elmi, who also attended North Dakota State.
Complicating matters further, both the Star Tribune and the Examiner reported that Omar and Elmi listed an address in the Minneapolis suburb of Columbia Heights on their 2009 marriage-license application — and it was the same location Hirsi listed as his home address when applying for a business license with the state government that same year.
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But there’s still no evidence to support the theory that her second husband was her brother.
Omar has not yet given a clear explanation as to why so many public documents point to her and Hirsi living together and being romantically involved while she was legally married to another man, but there is no solid evidence to support the theory that Elmi is Omar’s brother.
Being a refugee, Omar does not have an original birth certificate, but she released the first names of her six siblings in 2016 and provided a Star Tribune reporter with photographs of her and her siblings’ original refugee resettlement documents and identification cards — none of which listed Elmi as one of her brothers.
“For someone like me, who left a war-torn country at the age of 8, who got refugee status to come to America, where in the world am I finding a sibling 15 years, 20 years later to seek to do what people accuse me of?” she told the Star Tribune.
The Tribune reported that Omar was the youngest of seven siblings, and Elmi is three years younger than she.
Some outlets and blogs have pointed to social-media posts from accounts supposedly linked to Elmi in which he posted photos of Omar during the period of time she said in her divorce papers that she wasn’t in contact with him, where she seemingly referred to her third child as a “niece.”
The accounts have since been deleted, however, and no news outlets have been able to independently verify their authenticity or make contact with Elmi or any of Omar’s family members who could confirm that he and Omar are not related.
Furthermore, the site Snopes pointed out some significant holes in the theory that Elmi is Omar’s brother and that she married him to help him gain citizenship.
It noted that not only did all of Omar’s six siblings also gain refugee status in the US, but that siblings can sponsor one another for residency status and a green card under US immigration law — negating the need for Omar and Elmi to commit fraud by getting married if he really were her brother.
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One Minnesota-based immigration lawyer told the Star Tribune that cases of siblings marrying each other to commit immigration fraud were practically nonexistent, saying, “It is so rare that you would think that it would be more easily uncovered.”
And more important, if Elmi’s intention was to enter into a fraudulent marriage with Omar to gain a green card and settle permanently in the United States, it doesn’t explain why he left the US and moved back overseas to London just two years after getting married.
If he went to such lengths to commit marriage fraud to stay in the United States, it further doesn’t make sense that Elmi did not respond to Omar’s multiple attempts to serve him with divorce papers, given that she would have presumably been his sponsor for a green card.
Omar — who boasts 1.6 million Twitter followers on her personal account — hasn’t yet responded to Trump’s latest attack. But before the rally, she tweeted, “Trump will see his rally in my district today as an opportunity to attack me. But no smear will ever stop me from working toward what I’m in Congress to do.”
“Since before she was elected to office, Ilhan has been the subject of conspiracy theories and false accusations about her personal life,” a spokesman, Jeremy Slevin, said in a June statement to the Star Tribune. “Ilhan has shared more than most public officials ever do about the details of her personal life — even when it is personally painful.”
He added: “Whether by colluding with right-wing outlets to go after Muslim elected officials or hounding family members, legitimate media outlets have a responsibility not to fan the flames of hate.”