Resurfaced Clip Shows Rep. Ilhan Omar Blaming ‘Our Involvement in Other People’s Affairs’ for Terrorist Acts

Resurfaced Clip Shows Rep. Ilhan Omar Blaming ‘Our Involvement in Other People’s Affairs’ for Terrorist Acts
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is seen in the audience ahead of President Donald Trump's State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Wash., on Feb. 5, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Janita Kan

A recently resurfaced old interview with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) showed how she previously described acts of terrorism as a reaction to “our involvement in other people’s affairs,” when talking about the 2013 al-Shabab’s attack on a Kenyan shopping mall.

Omar’s remarks were made during a local television appearance on the show “Belahdan” on Twin Cities PBS, weeks after four terrorists attacked at the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya resulting in almost 70 deaths and wounding about 200 people. The terrorist group al-Shabab, that is based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack. A faction of this group had previously pledged allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group.

During the interview, the host Ahmed Tharwat and then-activist Omar were discussing the reaction of the Somalian community to the Kenyan attacks. At one point, Tharwat commented, “When are we gonna decide or realize that terrorism is a reaction? It’s an ideology, it’s a means of things, it’s not an entity, it’s not a place, people. It’s a reaction to a situation.”

In response, Omar said, “What you’re insinuating is what nobody wants to face. Nobody wants to face how the actions of the other people involved in the world have contributed to the rise of the radicalization and the rise of terrorist acts.”

“Nobody wants to take accountability of how these are byproducts of the actions of our involvement in other people’s affairs,” she said later in the interview.

Tharwat then compared violence committed by terror groups to actions of western governments, saying, “Most of the people who commit these kinds of heinous violence in the Muslim world, Arab world, Somali world are done by people unelected that are just fringe of the societies … but the violence done [by] the West is done by the people that are elected.”

As part of Omar’s response to Tharwat’s comments, she said, “A lot of people will not go that far to condemn [elected officials] because you don’t want to be unpatriotic, you don’t want to be seen to be going against your government. But when you have entities like al-Qaeda and al-Shabab that are committing these ... because you haven’t elected them, and they are the normal citizens, so it’s easier for you to say this is not okay because it’s not a legitimized action.”

Embroiled in Controversy

Omar, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has come under fire for a number of remarks and actions she had previously made. Moreover, her connections with several radical groups, which were also revealed in the past months, has raised questions about her suitability to serve on the House Committee.

In a recent speech, Omar received criticism for trivializing the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as “some people did something.”

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, surfaced on social media earlier this week. The United Arab Emirates designated CAIR a terrorist organization in 2014.

“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, according to the video.

Her comments prompted a backlash from several high profile people, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and prompted the New York Post to rebuke the congresswoman on its front page of its April 11 paper.

She also faced fresh condemnation in January this year for asking a judge in 2016 to show leniency toward a group of Minnesota men who were accused of attempting to join ISIS. Omar was a Minnesota state representative at the time.

“The best deterrent to fanaticism is a system of compassion,” she wrote in the letter obtained by Fox 9. “We must alter our attitude and approach; if we truly want to effect change, we should refocus our efforts on inclusion and rehabilitation.”

The nine men allegedly made plans, including buying fake passports, to travel to Syria to fights for the terrorist group.

Moreover, it was revealed in February that the Democratic congresswoman had traveled in November 2017 to Honduras as part of a delegation sponsored by the radical Witness for Peace group—a far-left organization that was formed during the Reagan administration to oppose U.S. policies aimed to stop the spread of communism. The group also supports Cuban and Venezuelan socialism.
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
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