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Travel Guides – Everything we know about the persistent but unproven rumors that Rep. Ilhan Omar married her brother

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn., during a news conference at the site of the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by a police officer during a traffic stopAP Photo/Morry Gash

  • Rep. Lauren Boebert revived unproven rumors sthat Rep. Ilhan Omar married her brother to commit immigration fraud.

  • Conservative websites have claimed for years that Omar’s second husband was really her brother.

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  • No evidence — like a birth certificate or other legal document — has surfaced to prove the theory.

Prominent progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has for years found herself on the receiving end of a slew of incendiary attacks from former President Donald Trump and other Republicans — including persistent but baseless rumors that she married her brother.

GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado is the latest high-profile conservative to revive the unverified claim amid other Islamophobic attacks and insults against Omar. In a November 17 speech on the House floor, Boebert called Omar a member of the “Jihad Squad” and referred to Omar’s “brother-husband.”

Trump poured more fuel on the fire in a Tuesday statement, accusing Omar, who came to the US as a young girl, of “abandoning her country” and saying “she should apologize for marrying her brother.”

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Omar, who was born in Somalia in 1982, came to America as a refugee with her father and siblings in 1995 by way of a Kenyan refugee camp and resettled in Minneapolis, where she became a US citizen. Omar was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016 and to Congress in 2018, one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress.

At an October 2019 rally in Omar’s district in Minneapolis, Trump praised the work of conservative blogger Scott Johnson, who authors the Power Line blog.

“Everything about Omar is a fraud, including her name,” Trump said at the rally. “Scott reports that his sources told him, that Omar’s legal husband was Omar’s brother, and that she married him for fraudulent purposes, you mean like, coming into the United States maybe?”

The unverified rumors that Omar married her brother originated from an anonymous user on a Somali-American internet forum in 2016, and have circulated around the internet ever since.

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Story continues

Conservative bloggers have claimed that Omar’s second husband, a British citizen named Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, is her brother and that she married him to help him fraudulently gain a US green card.

Trump rally

President Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Minneapolis.AP Photo/Jim Mone

Public documents contradict some of Omar’s story about her marriage history

No hard evidence — like a birth certificate or other legal documents — has surfaced to prove that Elmi is Omar’s brother or that any fraud was committed. Yet Omar has still not explained some discrepancies and inconsistencies in her marriage history.

Omar released a lengthy statement when she first ran for office in 2016 to address the persistent rumors that she married her brother, which she called “absurd and offensive,” and gave a timeline of her marriage and relationship history.

  • Omar married her first husband, Ahmed Hirsi, in an Islamic faith ceremony in 2002 when she was 19, but the couple did not obtain a legal marriage certificate. The couple had two children together from 2002 to 2008.

  • Omar and Hirsi split in 2008, also in a faith-based, not legal, proceeding.

  • Omar legally married her second husband, Elmi, in 2009.

  • Elmi and Omar separated just two years later, in 2011, but did not get a legal divorce. Elmi moved back to London.

  • Omar and Hirsi got back together in 2012 and had their third child while Omar was separated from but still legally married to Elmi.

  • Omar officially divorced Elmi in 2017 and legally married Hirsi in 2018.

  • Omar filed to legally divorce Hirsi in October 2019, citing an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship” in her divorce filings. Their divorce was finalized in November 2019, and Hirsi married another woman a little over a month later in December.

  • Omar also remarried, tying the knot with political consultant Tim Mynett in March 2020.

Numerous public documents obtained and reported by news outlets including the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Washington Examiner, however, cast doubt on Omar’s official timeline of her marriage and relationship history.

As the Star Tribune reported in June 2019, Omar filed joint tax returns with Hirsi in 2014 and 2015 while she was still legally married to Elmi. She was fined by Minnesota’s campaign-finance watchdog for paying a lawyer with campaign funds to fix the mistake, as federal law prohibits people from filing joint returns with a person who is not their spouse.

At about the same time, the Examiner published a story reporting that in dozens of publicly available traffic violation and court records, Hirsi “listed his address at a single Cedar Riverside address consistently in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011,” the same address Omar listed in separate traffic-violation cases, including during the time she was split from Hirsi.

The Examiner further discovered a 2013 local news article which said that Omar and Hirsi “moved to North Dakota so that Omar could finish her bachelor’s degree in political science” from 2009 to 2011, the exact time frame during which she was legally married to Elmi, who also attended North Dakota State.

Complicating matters further, both the Star Tribune and the Examiner reported that the address in the Minneapolis suburb of Columbia Heights that Omar and Elmi listed on their 2009 marriage-license application was the same location Hirsi listed as his home address when applying for a business license with the state government that same year.

ilhan omar

Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks to reporters in Statuary Hall on Capital Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

But there’s still no evidence to support the theory that her second husband was her brother.

Omar has not yet given a clear explanation as to why so many public documents point to her and Hirsi living together and being romantically involved while she was legally married to another man, but there is no solid evidence to support the theory that Elmi is Omar’s brother.

Being a refugee, Omar does not have an original birth certificate. She released the first names of her six siblings in 2016 and provided a Star Tribune reporter with photographs of her and her siblings’ original refugee resettlement documents and identification cards — none of which listed Elmi as one of her brothers. The Star Tribune reported that Omar was the youngest of seven siblings, and Elmi is three years younger than she.

“For someone like me, who left a war-torn country at the age of 8, who got refugee status to come to America, where in the world am I finding a sibling 15 years, 20 years later to seek to do what people accuse me of?” she told the Star Tribune.

Some outlets and blogs have pointed to social media posts from accounts supposedly linked to Elmi in which he posted photos of Omar during the period of time she said in her divorce papers that she wasn’t in contact with him, where he seemingly referred to her third child as a “niece.”

The accounts have since been deleted, however. No news outlets have been able to independently verify their authenticity or make contact with Elmi or any of Omar’s family members who could confirm that he and Omar are not related.

Furthermore, the site Snopes pointed out some significant logical holes in the theory that Elmi is Omar’s brother and that she married him to help him gain citizenship.

Not only did all of Omar’s six siblings also gain refugee status in the US, but siblings can sponsor one another for residency status and a green card under US immigration law — negating the need for Omar and Elmi to commit fraud by getting married if he really were her brother.

One Minnesota-based immigration lawyer told the Star Tribune that cases of siblings marrying each other to commit immigration fraud were practically nonexistent, saying, “It is so rare that you would think that it would be more easily uncovered.”

And more important, if Elmi’s intention was to enter into a fraudulent marriage with Omar to gain a green card and settle permanently in the United States, it doesn’t explain why he left the US and moved back overseas to London just two years after getting married.

If Elmi went to such lengths to commit marriage fraud to stay in the United States, it also doesn’t make sense why he did not respond to Omar’s multiple attempts to serve him with divorce papers — given that she would have presumably been his sponsor for a green card.

“Since before she was elected to office, Ilhan has been the subject of conspiracy theories and false accusations about her personal life,” a spokesman, Jeremy Slevin, told the Star Tribune in 2019. “Ilhan has shared more than most public officials ever do about the details of her personal life — even when it is personally painful.”

He added: “Whether by colluding with right-wing outlets to go after Muslim elected officials or hounding family members, legitimate media outlets have a responsibility not to fan the flames of hate.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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