Fact Check: Ilhan Omar Did Not Praise Al-Qaeda, But Minimized It, Laughed, Compared to U.S. Army

Ilhan Omar

On Monday, President Donald Trump defended his criticisms of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and the far-left “Squad,” and claimed that Omar had praised Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization responsible for the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks.
Trump said:

I mean, I look at the one — I look at Omar — I don’t know, I never met her. I hear the way she talks about al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has killed many Americans. She said, “You can hold your chest out, you can — when I think of America…huh…when I think of al Qaeda, I can hold my chest out.” When she talked about the World Trade Center being knocked down, “Some people.” You remember the famous “some people.” These are people that, in my opinion, hate our country.

So when — when I hear people speaking about how wonderful al Qaeda is, when I hear people talking about “some people” — “some” people with the World Trade Center — “some people”? No, not “some people.” Much more than “some people.”

And politicians can’t be afraid to take them on. A politician that hears somebody, where we’re at war with al Qaeda, and sees somebody talking about how great al Qaeda is — pick out her statement — that was Omar. How great al Qaeda is — when you hear that — and we’re losing great soldiers to al Qaeda.

When you see the World Trade Center gets knocked down, and you see the statements made about the World Trade Center — all the death and destruction — I’ll tell you what: I’m not happy with them.

Omar had an opportunity to clear the air, but declined to condemn Al Qaeda (or communism, another alleged association) at the “Squad” press conference on Monday, saying, “I will not dignify [the claim] with an answer.”

The president appears to have misinterpreted comments Omar made in 2013, in a video that emerged nearly six months ago (and which was ignored by the mainstream media until now, when it could be used to dispute Trump).

As Breitbart News noted in February, the most shocking claim Omar made in the interview with a local Minnesota television program was that U.S. foreign policy was responsible for acts of terrorism such as the Westgate shopping mall terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya, by the Somali terror group Al-Shabaab, who killed 71 people, mostly civilians.

Omar also drew a moral equivalence between radical Islamic terror and “the violence that is done [by] the West,” which she said that the U.S. and other countries had “legitimized.” However, Omar did not actually endorse acts of radical Islamic terror or praise Al Qaeda or other organizations.

Instead, she complained that American Muslims were expected to denounce those acts of terror and that the Arabic names of terror groups were emphasized.

In the course of that complaint, she described a class on terrorism that she took at college. Laughing, she described the posture of her professor when he would say the Arabic names of terror groups, saying that “every time the professor said, ‘Al Qaeda,’ he, sort of, like, his shoulders went up.” He did not do the same when describing “the Army,” she said, suggesting the professor was prejudiced.

That appears to be the origin of President Trump’s distorted quote that she said, “When I think of al Qaeda, I can hold my chest out.”

Omar’s remarks can be seen in the video below at 17:00: