Did City Pages Expose Evidence of Ilhan Omar’s Marriage Controversy?

Photo Credit: MinnPost
Photo Credit: MinnPost

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — On Wednesday, Ilhan Omar, DFL Candidate in MN House District 60B broke her silence to speak with Cory Zurowski of City Pages. Omar has refused to speak with the press for the past two months about her personal life. During her interview with City Pages, she spoke of her family background, her interest in politics, and her emotional frustration with the investigation into her personal life. Specifically, the part where she potentially married her brother, thereby committing marriage and immigration fraud.

Omar’s own statements regarding the controversy have been vague at best. As a candidate and as a campaign, #teamilhan has refused to give any information that would clear this situation up and allow the world the opportunity to move on from her candidacy.

However, as Scott Johnson of Powerline Blog points out, Omar’s first response was to hire Jean Brandl, a well-known criminal defense attorney to respond to the Powerline Blog author. Her refusal to rebut any new information and clear the matter up has created her own frustration. Johnson is the writer who broke the story of Ilhan Omar possibly marrying her own brother back in August 2016.

Whether or not Mr. Zurowski realizes it, he has shed new light into the Omar case. The story, which was originally published on Wednesday, October 26, Mr. Zurowski wrote that Ilhan Omar’s father is named “Nur Said Elmi Mohamed”. A day later, Zurowski’s article was changed and now Omar’s father’s name appears in the article as “Nur Omar Mohamed”.

Photo credit: City Pages
Photo credit: City Pages
Photo credit: City Pages
Photo credit: City Pages

Why the sudden change? It could very well be that by admitting that Ilhan Omar’s father’s name is Nur Said Elmi Mohamed, it validates the information discovered earlier by Alpha News that Ilhan Omar married her brother and committed immigration fraud.  An investigation into the Omar controversy by Alpha News uncovered evidence suggesting she committed marriage and immigration fraud when she married her brother.

The St. Cloud Times wrote two pieces about Somali naming culture. One on how Somali names are chosen and the other on how they name their children. The St. Cloud Times consulted three sources: Cultural Care Connection, REL Northwest, and SCTimes Reporter and Somali native Ahmed Abdi.

Here is an excerpt from the St. Cloud Times post:

“Somali children are usually given a three-part name. The first name is a chosen name. The middle name traditionally is the first name of the child’s father. The last name is the child’s paternal grandfather’s first name.

Women usually do not change their last name when they marry, so married parents often will have different last names than each other and their children.

For example, a father named Omar Elmi Dihoud and a mother named Waris Abdi Duale could have a son named Ali Omar Elmi, and a daughter named Roda Omar Elmi.

Retaining their grandparent’s name is a way to maintain their affiliation with the tribe of their birth. By a young age, Somali children can recite their grandparents’ names back many generations, Abdi said.”

The original name used by City Pages to identity Ilhan Omar’s father lends credence to the fraternal status of Ahmed Nur Said Elmi under Somali naming conventions. The change would also remove any suspicion from the reader that Omar married a man with an almost identical name to her father.

Alpha News, however, has been able to prove that the City Pages revised account of Omar’s father name is false. On his Facebook page, Omar’s father identifies himself as “Nur Said”. In a letter signed by community leaders for the creation of the Jubaland State in Somalia, we see that Omar’s father and brother-in-law have signed on as supporters for the creation of the State. Omar’s father signed his name on this letter as “Nur Said Elmi Mohamed,” the exact name that Zurowski first wrote in his article.

In the City Pages article, Zurowski also notes that Omar is the youngest of seven siblings. Admission by both Omar and her sister Sahra Noor shows that this statement given by Omar to City Pages is also false.

On August 21, Popsugar writer Georgia Bobley wrote about Ilhan Omar, The first sentence states, “18 years ago, Ilhan Omar left her life in Somalia with her parents and her four siblings as a refugee and landed in Minnesota, USA.”

In a profile done by Laura Oakes of WCCO in June of 2015, Sahra Noor, the sister of Ilhan Omar, also admits that she has four siblings. Oakes writes, “You might say 38-year-old Sahra Noor is a bit of an overachiever. In a Kenyan refugee camp during her teens, her single father and four siblings ended up in the U.S…”

This development of untruths and undocumented changes to Zurowski’s account of Omar’s life begs questioning of another change overnight – does she have five older brothers, three older brothers, or does she have only one older brother as Alpha News has been able to confirm?

The City Pages article mentions the siblings of Omar in vague terms, with the exception of her sister Sahra Noor. According to City Pages, Omar is the youngest of seven and has either five or three older brothers. As Alpha News has shown in previous articles, we have been able to identify her four siblings and their locations. Mohamed Nur Said Elmi is her older brother who lives in London. There is Leila Nur Said Elmi, we have not determined her age, but can prove that she lives in London with her children. There is Sahra Noor, Omar’s older sister who is  CEO of “People’s Center Health Services” in Minneapolis and lives in Minnesota. Finally, we have Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, Omar’s younger brother who lived in Minnesota for a few years, but currently resides in the United Kingdom. Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is also the name of the man whose name appears on Omar’s February 12, 2009 marriage license, which was filed in Hennepin County, Minnesota.  The license application filed for Omar and Elmi’s marriage lists Omar’s birthdate at October 4, 1982 and Ahmed Nur Said Elmi’s birthdate as April 4, 1985.  If Elmi is indeed Omar’s brother, Omar is not the youngest child.

Another piece of information from the City Pages article was brought up by Scott Johnson in his latest Powerline Blog post. Ilhan Omar states that “there are particular challenges to getting a legal divorce…one of those is getting the cooperation and presence of the other person who you are divorcing.”

According to the website of the divorce law firm “Cordell and Cordell”, Omar’s statement is false. Minnesota is considered a “no fault” state. This means that you do not need the consent of your spouse to obtain a divorce, nor are the reasons why you want a divorce considered in granting the divorce. In Minnesota, the courts can enter a divorce decree upon showing that 1) one of the parties has lived in the state for 180 days prior to the commencement of the proceedings and 2) the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Scott Johnson, who is also an attorney, points out that Ms. Omar does not need to get a divorce if she really is married to her brother. That marriage would be null and void.

Alpha News contacted the author of the City Pages article on Omar, Cory Zurowski. When asked why he changed the name of Omar’s father from “Nur Said Elmi Mohamed” to “Nur Omar Mohamed” and also changed the number of Omar’s brothers in the article, Zurowski replied, “I screwed up on the reporting end, hence the corrections…I wasn’t aware of your reporting on the controversy. But now I am. Thanks for letting me know.”

Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.