The British newspaper and website The Daily Mail has released a story suggesting that Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) married her own brother in order to help him with his immigration status. While this theory has been blowing around the wilds of the internet since even before she won her seat in 2016, does the publication in a major U.K. media outlet citing someone who says he is a knowledgeable source signify the accusation is gaining ground?
Omar has denied that her second husband, Ahmed Elmi, is her sibling. A spokesperson told the paper that she does not discuss her family or personal life, although when the initial story began circulating, she called it “baseless, absurd rumors” and suggested that they were rooted in Islamophobia.
The report states that a man claiming to be a friend of Ilhan Omar, Abdihakim Osman, discussed the marriage in an exclusive interview. He said that while Omar was married to her first husband, Ahmed Hirsi, she spoke about how she wanted to get her brother papers to come to America and that he only discovered that they had gotten married when the media began reporting on it several years later. Osman explained:
“No one knew there had been a wedding until the media turned up the marriage certificate years later.
When [Hirsi] and Ilhan got married, a lot of people were invited. It was a big Islamic wedding uniting two large clans in the Minneapolis community… I would say there were 100-150 people there.
When she married Elmi, no one even knew about it.”
The couple was married in 2009 by a Christian minister, Wilecia Harris, who refused to answer questions about why she thought a Muslim couple would seek a Christian wedding. The minister’s husband, Marcus Harris, told DailyMail.com that his wife “doesn’t want to be involved or interviewed about Congresswoman Omar… It’s not going to happen, not now and not never.”
Osman claims that the non-Muslim wedding was because an Imam would know they were related and would refuse to perform the ceremony.
There has yet to be any confirmation from Omar or her office that she has ever even met Mr. Osman.
Numerous outlets reported that the FBI has been conducting a series of investigations into Rep. Omar, some related to her marriage. However, as with any serious allegation, whether it is true or just a complete fabrication, it is the duty of law enforcement to carry out such an investigation.
There is little doubt that a notable British publication carrying a story like this will re-ignite the rumor mill; while there certainly appear to be inconsistencies in Omar’s timeline, this does not mean that she actually married her own brother.
In politics, however, it is not always the facts that sink a career or a campaign. Omar is facing three primary challengers in August, coupled with a low approval rating nationally; this story may be the final nail in her congressional coffin.
Read more from Mark Angelides.