Representative-Elect Ilhan Omar Working to Change Somali-Terror Perception

Newly Elected State Representative Ilhan Omar seeking to ease Somali-terror perceptions.

Newly Elected State Representative Ilhan Omar asking for mercy and investigation in Somali-terror cases

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Just two days after winning a n historic election, Representative-elect Ilhan Omar is already seeking to make a name for herself and leave a mark in Minnesota by tackling Somali-terror perceptions.

Fox9 reports that Rep. Omar sent a letter to Judge Michael Brown asking for leniency for 9 nine Somali men facing sentencing for trying to join ISIS.

Omar’s letter, which has been posted in its entirety by FOX 9 can be seen below.

In her letter, Omar states that the men do not deserve to spend their lives behind prison walls. That long sentencing would, in fact , destroy their lives as mistrust from the community around them would ultimately lead to unproductive lives. She then advocates for a restorative and rehabilitative punishment, stating that “the desire to commit violence is not inherent to people — it is the consequence for alienation.”

However, a Wall Street Journal article from May 2016 shows that Judge Michael Brown has already tried the rehabilitative approach with these nine young men.

According to WSJ “Judge Davis sought the help of Daniel Koehler, a researcher from Germany who earlier focused on helping young people leave the neo-Nazi movement in Germany and currently runs a German nonprofit that helps implement deradicalization programs.”

After evaluations and tests, Judge Davis let one of the young men out. Abdullahi Yusuf was released from prison and into a halfway home as long as he went through the deradicalization program.  According to the Star Tribune, Yusuf violated the terms of his release and was promptly taken into custody.

Deradicalization programs have failed before. According to WSJ, France has shut down its deradicalization program in its prisons in fear on increasing radicalization.

“The new system ends the experimentation with a therapeutic approach that aimed to ‘deradicalize’ inmates through counseling while separating them from the prison’s general population. Authorities have long worried that French prisons have become an incubator for terrorist attacks, allowing petty criminals to come into contact with Islamist recruiters. ‘I don’t use the term deradicalization, I don’t think we can invent a vaccine against this temptation,’ said Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas.”

Last month, The Daily Mail wrote that the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political VIolence found that European prisons are becoming fertile recruitment grounds for jihadist groups like ISIS.

This is not the first time that Ms. Omar has made questionable comments when it relates to terrorism.

Working Against “Countering Violent Extremism”

The election of Representative-elect Omar has been tied to anti-CVE activism. CVE or Countering Violent Extremism is aimed at  trying to deter homegrown terrorism. The program was initiated through the Obama administration and is implemented through U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger.

CAIR MN has claimed the program promotes islamophobia and racism. Proponents against the program used social media to express their joy in Ms. Omar’s election by stating that a win for Ms. Omar is a loss for CVE.

Ms. Omar has personally questioned U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger’s attempts of deterring homegrown terrorism. MPR news states “Ilhan Omar, a social justice advocate and Minneapolis City Council aide, said she’s not convinced that the after school offerings Luger is proposing will have any effect on deterring young people from extremism.” Omar has yet to address how she will combat homegrown terrorism in the Cedar-Riverside area.

September 28th Drone Strike

Another instance is when the U.S. Ambassador to Somalia came to Minnesota.

Ahmed Hirsi, Representative-elect Ilhan Omar’s partner, also identified as a cultural husband,is seen in a video asking Ambassador Stephen Schwartz to investigate the causalities of a U.S. drone strike on what he claims are Somali Galcayo Forces.

In the same video, a young woman who works in Somalia identifies the casualties as members of the terrorist organization known as Al-Shababab.

The young woman’s account is verified in a press release by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). In a press release, AFRICOM states

“On September 28, in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted a self-defense strike against al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-associated terrorist group, in Galcayo, Somalia.

During a Somali-led counterterrorism operation to disrupt an al-Shabaab Improvised Explosive Device (IED) making network, a group of armed al-Shabaab fighters attacked, threatening the safety and security of the Somali force. Somali forces returned fire in self-defense.  The U.S. conducted a self-defense strike to neutralize the threat, killing nine (9) enemy fighters.

We have seen reports alleging non-combatant casualties as a result of this defensive strike. We have assessed all credible evidence and determined those reports are incorrect.

As with all such allegations, we take this one seriously. Once an allegation of non-combatant casualties is reported, we conduct a review of all available relevant information. The review includes all relevant and credible information provided from numerous sources, including reports posted to social media. If the allegation is initially determined to be credible, additional levels of assessment are conducted.

The U.S. remains committed to our partners in eliminating terrorism and advancing security in the region.  Violent extremists endanger the safety and stability of the Somali people; countering these threats remains in our common interests.

The Ambassador’s trip to the Twin Cities occurred two days after the drone strike.

We reached out to Luger and Omar for comment.

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.