|Donald Trump twists Ilhan Omar’s comments about al-Qaida
President Donald Trump drew wide criticism July 14 for a tweet that told " ‘progressive’ Democrat congresswomen" to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
Some commentators said Trump’s tweet was racist. It was also based on a false premise. Three of the members of Congress he apparently targeted — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — were born in the United States. The fourth, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, is a naturalized citizen who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia.
The following day, Trump fought back against the criticism at a White House event, going on offense against the four lawmakers, especially Omar.
"I hear the way she talks about al-Qaida," Trump said. "Al-Qaida has killed many Americans. She said you could hold your chest out. ‘When I think of America, ehh. When I think of al-Qaida, I can hold my chest out."
Trump continued, "When I hear people speaking about how wonderful al-Qaida is, when I hear people talking about ‘some people,’ with the World Trade Center — some people? No, not some people. Much more than some people."
The Trump re-election campaign referred PolitiFact to the following remarks Omar has made in the past. However, Trump was misportraying the substance of what she said.
The 2013 interview
Pro-Trump circules have given substantial attention to an interview Omar gave in October 2013 for a local PBS show, "Belahdan," which covers Middle Eastern community issues and perspectives. Fox News commentators mentioned the interview this year in February, April and July.
On the show, Omar was asked by interviewer Ahmed Tharwat about backlash faced by Somalis following the bombing of a Kenyan shopping mall. Al-Shabab, a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the bombing that left 67 people dead.
Omar criticized Al-Shabab for terrorizing communities, but she questioned why Somalis are expected to condemn an attack that they were not a part of.
The CAIR comments
The other potentially relevant remarks Omar has made in the past came during a March 23, 2019, address to the Council of American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles' fourth annual Valley Banquet in Woodland Hills, Calif.
Omar’s remarks drew criticism from some quarters that she had soft-pedaled the 9/11 attacks carried out by al-Qaida.
At one point in her remarks, Omar said that "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," according to the YouTube video of the event.
She was wrong about CAIR’s founding — the group was actually established in 1994— but her critics focused on her use of the phrase "some people did something," which they suggested was a way for her to protect al-Qaida.
Others believed Omar was using verbal shorthand and that her meaning was clear from the full speech.
Some have been offended by Omar’s remarks in the 2013 interview and portions of her speech to CAIR. But in neither case did she enthuse about "how wonderful" the terrorist group is, or anything close.
We rate the statement False.