What started out as a “conspiracy theory” started by a right wing activist who has been banned off of every major social media platform is now a major story getting mainstream media traction and attention from the FBI.
Laura Loomer published a screenshot-filled blog post to her site in early 2019, alleging that Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar had committed marriage fraud by bringing her brother to the United States under the guise of being her spouse.
Loomer, who is now running for Congress herself, has been panned as an anti-Muslim far-right conspiracy theorist who engages in hate speech.
But now her blog post, initially dismissed as as baseless, has become the origin of a major story now involving the FBI.
Here, we review all of the facts that we know.
Ilhan Omar filed a marriage application on September 30, 2002 to wed the father of her children, Ahmed Hirsi, also known as Ahmed Aden. It looks like they were never legally married, however.
Omar has a daughter in 2003 with Hirsi and then another child shortly after.
On February 12th, 2009, Ilhan Omar married a man named Ahmed Nur Said Elmi in Hennepin County, Minnesota.
Omar has another child with Hirsi in 2012.
In 2017, Omar and Elmi get divorced.
Omar married Hirsi in 2018 and then the two were divorced a year later in 2019. The breakup has spawned its own dramatic media flare.
The New York Post reports that a “concerned party” contacted the FBI and that they and “the agents discussed concerns the Somali-born Democrat married Elmi, a British citizen rumored to be her brother, so he could obtain a green card and study in America.”
Why the controversy?
Why does it look like a sham marriage?
Omar had children with Ahmed Hirsi while married to Elmi.
Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is gay. His social media posts make that pretty clear. He currently lives in UK.
If Elmi is not in fact Omar’s brother, the marriage appears to at least be somewhat fraudulent.
So is Ahmed Nur Said Elmi Ilhan’s brother?
He shares the same name as Omar’s father. Her father and ex husband’s names are both Nur Said Elmi.
Omar’s father’s name is Mohamed Nur Said Elmi. Loomer says in her piece that it is customary to give a son the father’s name in Omar’s Somali Muslim culture. But it isn’t uncommon in any culture, really.
Another one of the key pieces of “evidence” are two posts on Instagram, two separate posts feature the same set of twin girls at different ages. For the purposes of privacy, we’ve decided not to share the names and photos of the young girls.
The two young girls are believed to be the daughters of Leila Nur Said, Omar’s sister who lives in the UK.
There are comments from a private account Ilhan Omar used in which she “liked” a photo of the girls posted by Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. Elmi refers to the girls as his nieces in the caption. This post was made in 2012, 2 years after her supposed split with Ahmed Nur Said.
Another photo posted by Ilhan Omar shows the same twin girls, now years older, in 2015. In the caption she also refers to the girls as her nieces.
The comments imply that Leila Nur Said is both Ilhan and Elmi’s sister.
Ilhan Omar has recently responded to the accusation, calling the story “fake news”, “disgusting lies”, and chalks it up to smears related to anti-Muslim hatred she gets on a regular basis.
Omar responded to The View’s Meghan McCain, who brought the story up on Twitter, saying “Paying people to generate fake news stories in order to delegitimize me and those I represent isn’t a good look” and “desperation is a sad mobilizing tool.”
The Divide will continue to update as the story unfolds.