Why Is Ilhan Omar’s Collusion With Islamists Acceptable?

Why Is Ilhan Omar’s Collusion With Islamists Acceptable?

Omar’s penchant for provoking millions of Americans with odious words has masked the related elements of her associations, ideology, and background.
Ben Weingarten
By

Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has distinguished herself with often offensive, outrageous, and unpatriotic rhetoric. One week she invokes classic anti-Jewish tropes. The next she trivializes the September 11 jihadist attacks. Another it is unearthed that she espouses morally relativistic if not overtly anti-American views about U.S. soldiers, the very ones who fought to defend civilians in her native Somalia to boot.

Omar’s penchant for provoking millions of Americans with odious words has masked the related, equally if not more troubling, elements of her associations, ideology, and background.

Consider Omar’s Meeting with Turkey’s President

Consider, for example, the revelation, largely unnoticed outside of conservative media, that as a Minnesota Assemblywoman Omar had a closed-press meeting in fall 2017 with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to a curiously now-deleted article from the local Somalian-language periodical in her district, the Tusmo Times, she and the Islamist authoritarian president met during his U.N. General Assembly visit to New York.

Per one account, they discussed: “issues involving Omar’s native Somalia and issues for Somalis in Minnesota. She [Omar] thanked Erdogan for Turkey’s support for the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The two also discussed investment and trade between Turkey and Somalia. The meeting ended with Erdogan asking Omar to voice her support for Turkey. The report concludes by adding that Omar not only met with Erdogan, but also with the Turkish prime minister and other senior Turkish officials.”

A political-media establishment frenzied over foreign influence might ask many questions about this meeting, such as: Why did a state lawmaker have it? Was it appropriate for her to be discussing Turkish-Somali relations as an American representative? On whose behalf was she speaking? Did anyone bless this meeting at the federal level, and on what grounds? Did Omar have any reservations about meeting with President Erdogan given the totalitarian, bellicose, and bigoted nature of his regime? What do Omar’s Democratic colleagues at the national level make of this meeting?

This last question would likely elicit some interesting answers, given what prominent Democrats have said about President Erdogan. Take Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), for example, a critic of Erdogan and his repression of journalists. In April 2017, several months before the Omar-Erdogan meeting, a Turkish prosecutor announced he was investigating Schumer, among other Americans, for fomenting the supposed coup Erdogan crushed in 2016. Would Schumer have endorsed a meeting with a regime engaged in such an outlandish probe?

In May 2017, Schumer’s Senate colleague Ed Markey (D-MA) proffered a resolution “condemning the violence against peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence…and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.” According to the resolution, Turkish officials had beaten, kicked, and choked unarmed protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., injuring at least 11 people.

In the House, chief collusion arbiter Adam Schiff (D-CA) issued a related statement in which he challenged the Erdogan regime, asserting: “Erdogan cannot export the violent repression he visits on his own citizens to our streets. The violence of May 16 can’t go unanswered or forgotten…I stand here today to affirm that we will not allow Turkey to beat innocent protesters on the streets of our Nation’s capital. We will continue to pursue justice and to make clear that America will always stand up for the right of peaceful and free expression.”

See No Democratic Evil, Hear No Democratic Evil

Yet there’s no word from Markey or Schiff regarding the revelations about Omar’s meeting with Erdogan.

Nor has there been any comment from the man who oversees the most prominent committee on which Omar sits, House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). In July 2018, Engel questioned “whether Turkey’s autocratic ruler, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is truly committed to his country’s relationship with the United States,” citing the Turkish regime’s holding of American pastor Andrew Brunson under house arrest, crackdown following the supposed coup, contemplated purchase of a Russian air defense system, and other offending acts.

Last but not least, there was nary a peep about Logan Act violations from Obama administration officials.

Democrats would likely contend that U.S. leaders routinely meet with President Erdogan. Turkey is ostensibly a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, albeit increasingly in name only. But a state assemblywoman is not a head of state or diplomat. Nor did Omar have any business speaking as a representative of the U.S. government, which was her de facto position in discussing international relations—and perhaps most strangely, international relations independent of the United States’.

Worse Ties to Terrorist Front Groups

Perhaps the more troubling tie that binds President Erdogan and Omar is their shared affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood—the tip of the Sunni jihadist spear. Erdogan has publicly defended the Muslim Brotherhood, and vice versa, as he and the group share a common Sunni Islamic supremacist ideology. Erdogan’s Turkey has also been an ardent supporter of Hamas, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most notorious jihadist offshoots.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has effectively served as the public relations arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, in part through its support of Hamas. CAIR’s coordination with Hamas was revealed when it was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest jihad financing case in U.S. history, the Holy Land Foundation trial, in which several individuals were prosecuted for a scheme that resulted in millions of dollars flowing to Hamas.

The longstanding links between the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and CAIR have been detailed in proposed legislation that would designate the Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. The unpassed law notes:

Shortly after HAMAS was founded in 1987, as an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, the International Muslim Brotherhood ordered the Muslim Brotherhood chapters throughout the world to create Palestine Committees, who supported HAMAS with ‘media, money and men’. The U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood created the United States Palestine Committee, which documents reflect was initially comprised of 3 organizations: the Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and the United Association for Studies and Research. CAIR was later added to these organizations. The mandate of these organizations, per the International Muslim Brotherhood, was to support HAMAS, and the HLF’s [Holy Land Foundation] particular role was to raise money to support HAMAS’ organizations inside the Palestinian territories.

Following the Holy Land Foundation case, the FBI swore off contact with CAIR. On account of its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the United Arab Emirates classified CAIR as a terrorist organization in 2014.

President Erdogan has met with senior members of CAIR on multiple occasions. Omar seems to share Erdogan’s affinity for the group. Her recent offending comments regarding the attacks of September 11, 2001 were made in front of CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter. Omar was previously an Advisory Board member for CAIR’s Minnesota branch. She has also received several thousand dollars’ worth of political contributions from CAIR’s California political action committee, as well as CAIR personnel in the 2018 fundraising cycle.

The congresswoman has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in other ways, as illustrated multiple times in recent weeks. In February 2019, Omar headlined an event hosted by Islamic Relief USA, whose chairman has been identified as one of the most prominent representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States. Earlier this month, Omar publicly lobbied the Trump administration, via her Twitter account, to press for the release of an imprisoned leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s female affiliate.

Using Her Position to Benefit Terrorists’ Interests

Consistent with Islamic supremacist groups like CAIR, Omar has taken—to put it charitably—a soft line on terrorists. In a 2016 letter to a judge in which Omar pled for leniency for nine Minnesota men charged with planning to join the Islamic State, the congresswoman went so far as to claim that in effect the United States is to blame for creating jihadists. She proffered the perverse argument, favored by sophistic Islamists and their apologists, that jihad represents blowback for perceived Western sins, including those of materialism and disenfranchisement. It must be read to be believed.

In the past, Omar has exhibited a flippant attitude towards jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, seeming to mock those Americans concerned with the groups’ violence and barbarism.

Then there’s Omar’s support of issues and positions shared by many of her Islamist supporters, including: the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement; the thinly veiled anti-Semitic propaganda Omar parrots regarding Israel; her outright bigotry towards Jews, consistent with the pervasive anti-Semitism of her Islamist supporters; and, perhaps most chillingly, Omar and her allies’ attempts to stifle any criticism of her rhetoric, by casting herself as the victim of Islamophobic “hate speech” that incites violence. This paradigm, incidentally, has been applied to great effect in Europe by Islamists who seek to shut up their critics.

There is a clear nexus between Omar’s associations, words, and actions: She consorts—one might say colludes—with Islamists, parrots their propaganda, and has advocated for their positions as a member of Congress.

The Odd Behavior Doesn’t End There

On top of these issues, consider two more troubling stories the media has been completely loathe to cover, save for a few intrepid conservative journalists, led by PJ Media’s David Steinberg: (i) Omar’s oddly substantial role in the 2016 presidential elections of the highly corrupt Somalian government, in which her support for the winning candidate was followed by an appointment of her brother-in-law to a senior position on the victor’s staff; and (ii) Omar’s seemingly pervasive web of fraudulent, felonious activity centering on the bizarre but substantiated claim that she married her brother.

Set aside the backdrop of the last two years of hysteria over foreign collusion. If Omar were to fill out standard paperwork for a national security position, which she certainly holds, the red flags raised by information in the public domain alone in terms of the congresswoman’s Islamist ties, links to a corrupt foreign government with which she may have engaged in a quid pro quo and potentially compromising criminality would inundate investigators.

These are material issues affecting American national security, especially given Omar’s seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. While her anti-Semitic bigotry ought to be condemned at every turn, we must also acknowledge the plethora of other problems surrounding her. And we should ask ourselves a related question: Why is the political-media establishment, which claims to care about foreign influence, mum?

Maybe Collusion Is Okay If You’re a Democrat

Is it that Omar is colluding with the right kind of people? This seems plausible. After all, in spite of Turkey leading the world in journalists jailed over the last three years, President Erdogan gets to pen editorials in the Washington Post. That same newspaper of course provided a platform for the similarly Muslim Brotherhood-supporting, virulently anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic Jamal Khashoggi.

She can offend millions of Americans with her words, and the left will absolve her.

The Post is a good proxy for where the political-media establishment stands on political Islam, which is where the Obama administration stood: It is generally sympathetic, especially vis-à-vis challenging nominally anti-Islamist authoritarian regimes, especially those who stand against the Iranian regime. In a climate in which leading Democratic candidates believe convicted jihadists should retain the right to vote, certainly Omar’s associations and inclinations would seem to be acceptable.

Or perhaps it is not so much an issue of whom Omar is colluding with, but who Omar is, namely an avatar for the intersectionalist, America-loathing, progressive-Islamic supremacist set. Omar appears to be protected by an identity politics veil. As such, she can offend millions of Americans with her words, and the left will absolve her from blame by refusing to censure her by name, then diluting even general charges against her by condemning any and all offensive rhetoric.

In a post-Kavanaugh era in which it is clear that winning trumps all else for the left, if Omar can be used as a cudgel against Republicans, that is probably reason enough to ignore the serious concerns about her. Omar’s danger is not just in her bigotry, but in the company she keeps, and the ideology it is clear she has been bathed in and continues to espouse—all of which serve to the detriment of American national interest.

The truth is that if Omar were held up to a standard of scrutiny even remotely approximating that to which the president has been subjected, she would not just be thrown off the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but forced by her party to resign and never step foot in Washington D.C. again. That it will not happen is a travesty.

Ben Weingarten is a Federalist senior contributor, senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and fellow at the Claremont Institute. He was selected as a 2019 Robert Novak Journalism fellow of the Fund for American Studies, under which he is currently working on a book on U.S.-China policy. You can find his work at benweingarten.com, and follow him on Twitter @bhweingarten.

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