When Ilhan Omar finally got around to issuing a statement on her multiple marriages this past Wednesday evening, she drew on the Democratic scandal management playbook to put the story to bed. Omar characterized the allegations related to her marriages as “absurd and offensive.” Omar counts on cooperative Minnesota media not to follow up with impolite questions. KMSP 9’s Tom Lyden, however, is not in a cooperative mood.
Lyden reported last night: “She may be relatively new to politics, but Ilhan Omar has already mastered an invaluable skill: how to avoid a reporter’s question.” Lyden actually confronted Omar inside the fundraiser at which he found her: “We crashed a DFL fundraiser to try and ask Ilhan Omar about her marital arrangements, but she again declined.” Lyden also reported that immigration authorities are looking into Omar’s case. Lyden showed Omar on camera fending off his questions. (Lyden’s story appears to have been removed from the KMSP site after a denial by the United States Attorney that he had referred Omar for investigation by immigration authorities; KMSP 9’s update is here.)
I think the stonewalling is a story all by itself. Omar’s campaign prefers to think of our interest in the story as a “witch hunt” conducted by Power Line. KMSP 9 has the quote in the linked update.
Understand, however, that the heart of this story is possible immigration fraud. I asked the Omar campaign whether her second marriage, the one to her lawful husband, was entered into for dishonest purposes. The campaign forwarded my inquiry for response by Jean Brandl, a Minnesota criminal defense attorney. The response Brandl conveyed to my inquiries failed to address their substance. I thought that too was a story all by itself.
Incidentally, I came across Brandl in court in her capacity as counsel for Abdullahi Yusuf during the terrorism trial in Minneapolis this past May; Brandl’s client pleaded guilty before trial. Like all the rest of the defendants in the case, Brandl’s client has yet to be sentenced.
I met face to face with a Somali source this afternoon to whom I promised confidentiality. He told me that he fears for his safety if his identity is disclosed. I confirmed his name and address with government issued identification. I asked him why he was willing to talk to me. He told me that he is an American citizen and finds Omar’s behavior to be a disgrace to the community. I may be mistaken, but I found him to be a credible source.
He told me that he knew Ahmed Nur Said Elmi as Ilhan Omar’s brother when he (the husband and/or brother) lived in Minneapolis with Omar. He sketched out the family relationships of Omar’s brothers and sisters in the United States and the United Kingdom. He gave me the screenshot below from the Facebook account of a man he identified as Omar’s brother Mohammed Nur Said. I found his Facebook page here when I accessed it earlier today; Ilhan Omar was all over it. My source identified Mohammed Nur Said as the brother of Ahmed Nur Said Elmi and of Ilhan Omar.
He has provided me this translation of the substance of the 2015 Facebook post by Mohammed Nur Said: “My sister Ilhan Omar made concise and very important speech in London. In that speech she announced that she will run for Minneapolis, Minnesota state representative seat the year of 2016. I wish her victory, support her.” The original Facebook post included a video of Omar’s London speech.
Based on Omar’s nonresponse to Lyden and to my second set of questions last week, I have not run these allegations by Omar for comment. I think I have talked to all the reporters in town who are working on this story except Lyden, and all but Lyden have told me that Omar refuses to talk to them; Lyden showed Omar on camera refusing to talk to him. See Omar’s statement linked above for the relevant denials.
As Drudge would say, developing…
UPDATE: Preya Samsundar tries to connect the dots through social media in her Alpha News report: “Further investigation suggests Omar married brother.” I may be mistaken in my work on this matter; Samsundar may be as well. We have one thing in common with Lyden. We have gotten no answers to easy questions.