Omar Defends 9/11 Comments in Interview With Al-Jazeera

Omar Defends 9/11 Comments in Interview With Al-Jazeera
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 24, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) defended her comments about the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in an interview published after President Donald Trump criticized her over the remarks.

During a July 17 rally, Trump referred to a speech by Omar earlier this year when she said about the 9/11 terror attacks: "some people did something."

“Omar minimized the Sept. 11 attacks in our homeland, saying ‘some people did something’—I don’t think so. Some people did something, yeah some people did something alright,” Trump said.

The remarks were made last month as part of a speech at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) fundraiser, during which she said the radical Muslim group was founded after the terror attacks.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” Omar said.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in Washington on Jan. 3, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in Washington on Jan. 3, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
In a new interview with Al Jazeera, Omar was asked to clearly state her position on the issue.

"Those [9/11] are horrific attacks. There's no question about that, that's not a debatable thing," she said.

"Innocent Americans lost their lives that day, we all mourn their deaths. It is one of the most devastating days of American life, of my life, of my family's, of the families that lost their family members. That's not debatable, and I think it's quite disgusting that people even question that and want to debate that."

Omar continued, focusing on the point she was trying to make during the speech.

"What is important is the larger point that I was speaking to, which is about making sure that blame isn't placed on a whole faith, that we as Muslims are not collectively blamed for the actions of terrorists," she added.

"I do not blame every single white person when we have a white man who massacres children at a school, or moviegoers in a movie theatre. And I think this really horrendous narrative that says, as a Muslim, I'm supposed to explain, apologize, for the actions of someone who's also terrorizing me, is absurd."

Al Jazeera is a media outlet owned by the government of Qatar and is among the many outlets that frequently report negatively about Trump with few, if any, positive stories about the president and his administration.

The interview was recorded on June 13 but was not published until July 30.

Al Jazeera Suspends Two Journalists Over Controversial Holocaust Video

Al Jazeera said that it suspended two journalists after a video the media outlet produced questioning how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust circulated widely online.
The Qatari state-funded broadcaster posted the video, “the story of the Holocaust, on its AJ+ Arabic website, reported the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI.

The clip shows Muna Hawwa, a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian who lives in Qatar and works as a producer for Al Jazeera, standing and talking to viewers.

She tells them that “the narrative” that Nazis killed six million Jews in Europe during the Holocaust was “adopted by the Zionist movement” while claiming that “one of the most prominent historical debates to this day” is about how many Jews were actually killed in the Holocaust.

“People are divided between those who deny the annihilation, others who think that the outcome was exaggerated, and others yet who accuse the Zionist movement of blowing it out of proportion in the service of the plan to establish what would later be known as the ‘State of Israel,'” Hawwa claimed.

The video then showed images of Jews living under Nazi rule and pictures of those killed as the narrator said: “The victims of the Nazis—who were following Hitler’s orders—exceeded 20 million people. The Jews were part of them. So why is there a focus only on them?”

“The Jewish groups had financial resources, media institutions, research centers, and academic voices that managed to put a special spotlight on the Jewish victims of the Nazis,” Hawwa said, answering her own question.

Hawwa said it was “a moral obligation” to denounce what happened but said that Israel was the biggest “winner” of the Holocaust and that Israel uses the “same justification” as a “launching pad for the racial cleansing and annihilation of the Palestinians,” claiming the country had “suckled from the Nazi spirit.”

In a Facebook post, she told her followers that the video was her latest story, asking for feedback on what they loved about it.

The video circulated widely online, garnering some 1.1 million views on Facebook and Twitter, before MEMRI shared an English translation of the video, which was broadcast in Arabic. It was later taken down.

Al Jazeera said that the video “downplayed and misrepresented the Holocaust” and that two journalists were suspended. The company did not say whether Hawwa was one of them.

It said that Dima Khatib, managing director of AJ+, claimed the video was produced “without due oversight.”

“Announcing a review of workflows at AJ+ to ensure all content goes through proper editorial channels, Khatib also called on all AJ+ editors and journalists to comply with the network’s editorial values,” Al Jazeera stated.

The network did not apologize to Jews for its video.