Freshman U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., has become known to many Americans for her anti-Semitic remarks, but when she ran for a state legislative seat in 2016 and Congress last year, she was confronted with charges that she had committed immigration fraud by marrying her brother.
Omar vehemently denies the claim, and her suppression of records has hindered any official verification. Nevertheless, investigations by conservative media outlets PJ Media and Alpha News have uncovered evidence that even the Associated Press has found compelling.
One week after Omar became the first Somali-American elected to a state legislature, an anonymous post appeared on a Somali community discussion site claiming the man to whom she was married at the time, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, was her brother.
The Powerline blog followed up, asking whether Omar was married to two men, Elmi and Ahmed Hirsi, the father of her three children.
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis examined Omar’s marital records, which showed she had been legally married to Elmi since 2009 but never been legally married to Hirsi.
The paper concluded, however, there was no evidence that Elmi is Omar’s brother.
The rumors, nevertheless, persisted, and during her 2018 election campaign for Congress, Republicans in her 5th District launched a website presenting evidence.
The Minnesota Republicans said they had turned over documents to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota “implicating Ilhan Omar in multiple state and federal felonies, including tax fraud, immigration fraud, healthcare fraud and FAFSA fraud.”
In August 2016, Omar’s campaign issued a “response from Omar” statement on her website:
In 2002, when I was 19 years old, Ahmed Hirsi (whose name before he received citizenship was Ahmed Aden), the father of my children and love of my life, and I, applied for a marriage license, but we never finalized the application and thus were never legally married. In 2008, we decided to end our relationship in our faith tradition after reaching an impasse in our life together.
I entered into a relationship with a British citizen, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, and married him legally in 2009. Our relationship ended in 2011 and we divorced in our faith tradition. After that, he moved home to England. I have yet to legally divorce Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, but am in the process of doing so. Insinuations that Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is my brother are absurd and offensive.
Since 2011, I am happy to say that I have reconciled with Ahmed Hirsi, we have married in our faith tradition and are raising our family together. Like all families, we have had our ups and downs but we are proud to have come through it together.
In October 2018, the Associated Press asked Omar for immigration records and birth certificates. She refused to provide the immigration records and claimed birth certificates were lost during the Somali civil war.
Curiously, she also refused to provide AP with a list of her siblings. A Freedom of Information Act request for immigration records was returned to AP, explaining Omar or Elmi would need to authorize the release.
Omar told AP for the October 2018 article: “We choose not to further the narrative of those who oppose us.”
Omar was a child when her family fled Somalia amid civil war in 1991. She spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya and immigrated to the United States as a refugee in 1995. She became a citizen in 2000 at age 17.
The Obama administration did not investigate the claims, according to an Aug. 22, 2016, letter to her attorney at the time, AP reported. Asked if the Trump administration was investigating, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said it’s against Justice Department policy to publicly confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
Elmi: I don’t recall being married
Reporting by PJ Media’s David Steinberg and Alpha News has uncovered evidence supporting the claim that Elmi is Omar’s brother.
PJ Media presented records showing Omar still lived with Hirsi throughout her marriage to Elmi.
And, PJ Media reported, official schools records support the claim Omar married her brother.
Further, PJ Media’s Steinberg presented strong evidence Omar committed perjury when she filed for divorce from Elmi in 2017.
In a sworn document, she claimed she had had no contact with him since 2011. However, photos posted on Instagram show Omar in London in 2014 with a man who appeared to be Elmi.
After posting the photos, Alpha News reported in August 2016 it had received several emails from a man identifying himself as Ahmed Nur Said Elmi who demanded the news site remove the photos.
Elmi confirmed he is in the photos but insisted “no way am I affiliated with anyone in your articles.”
Strangely, he continued: “Nor do I recall being married to anyone. At least, from what I remember.”
In another report, Alpha News pointed to Instagram posts showing Omar and Elmi communicating via social media until October 2013. In some of the social media posts, Elmi refers to Omar’s two girls as his nieces, and Omar says in one he is the “best uncle.”
AP: ‘Possibility of a connection’
The left-leaning, fact-check site Snopes examined the claim that Omar married her brother and concluded it was “unverified.”
“We found no public records or credible sources contradicting Omar’s account of her past, nor any substantive evidence corroborating claims that Elmi is her brother or that their marriage was otherwise fraudulent,” Snopes said. “In addition, some of the claims offered in support of the rumor don’t seem to add up.”
However, the Associated Press noted the discrepancies in the claims of the Elmi who affirmed to Alpha News he was the man in the 2014 Instagram photos but didn’t know Omar.
AP said there were “several coincidences that suggest the possibility of a connection between Omar and the man who claimed he doesn’t know her.”
Among them, is that Elmi’s LinkedIn account said he went to North Dakota State University.
University records show both Elmi and Omar attended the school from August 2010 through May of 2012. Elmi’s LinkedIn account lists art as a major, which corresponds with university records.
AP then spotlighted the inconsistencies in Elmi’s claims:
The man who spoke with Alpha News gave the website a different birthdate and year of attendance. The university had no record of anyone with the name and birthdate given to Alpha News, and it had no record of anyone with his name attending school in 2005, the year he provided to Alpha News.
In addition, his Instagram account contains pictures of Minneapolis scenes that are dated in 2012; Elmi, Omar’s ex-husband, lived in Minneapolis in 2012, according to court records that show he was evicted from an apartment that year.