Ihlan Omar scored a historic victory in Minnesota last Tuesday when she defeated 22-term incumbent Phyllis Khan in the DFL party primary, setting her up for an almost-certain election in November in heavily DFL state House District 60B. Omar would also be the first Somali state legislator in the country.
Longtime State Rep. Phyllis Kahn Defeated By Somali Activist Ihlan Omar https://t.co/HSY9p55ZIP
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) August 10, 2016
Now just days after her upset primary victory, Omar faces serious allegations that she engaged in marriage and possible immigration fraud.
In a story by attorney Scott Johnson at the Powerline blog on Friday, there are allegations that one of her sham marriages may be to her own brother:
A reader has written us to point out that the Somali website Somalispot posted information last week suggesting Omar’s involvement in marriage and immigration fraud. The post notes that Omar married Ahmed Hirsi in 2002. Hirsi is the father of Omar’s three children. Omar is depicted with Hirsi and their children on Omar’s campaign website here.
The post further notes that Omar married her brother Ahmed Nur Said Elmi in 2009, implying that the latter marriage assisted his entry into the United States. Her brother was a British citizen. “As soon as Ilhan Omar married him,” the post continues, “he started university at her [a]lma mater North Dakota State University where he graduated in 2012. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Minneapolis where he was living in a public housing complex and was later evicted. He then returned to the United Kingdom where he now lives.”
Let me note here that Omar’s marriage to her brother, if it occurred in fact, is illegal under Minnesota law. I believe it would be void ab initio, as though it never occurred. If it occurred, I infer that it must have taken place for dishonest purposes.
Any such second marriage might be bigamous as well as fraudulent. That is not clear to me. Minnesota law defines bigamy as “knowingly having a prior marriage that is not dissolved” while also “contract[ing] a marriage in this state.” Bigamy is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine up to $10,000. The definition and penalty provisions of the crime of bigamy are set forth in Minn. Stat. § 609.355.
Twin Cities media are already investigating the allegations.
Fox9 reported last night that Omar may have had as many as three marriages with no divorces on record:
In 2002, Omar, then just 19, swore out a marriage license with a man named Ahmed Aden. They write that they were married by the Muslim Church, but were having trouble getting housing and insurance. Hennepin County has no marriage certificate or final record that legalized the marriage.
Then, in 2009, she at least on paper legally marries a man by the name of Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. The conservative Power Line blog alleges that this is her brother — a potential sham marriage to help the brother with immigration into the United States. Fox 9 cannot independently confirm the allegation.
In recent interviews, Ilhan Omar has said her husband is a third man — Ahmed Hirsi — the father of the couple’s 3 children. We could not find any divorce records in Ilhan Omar’s name in Minnesota. As for the man she publicly refers to as her husband, one source in the community tells Fox 9 that Ilhan Omar’s current marriage is what you would call a “traditional” or “community” marriage — one not necessarily legalized with paperwork at the county or state level.
According to that report, a five-day waiver certificate filed with the first marriage license application with Ahmed Aden states:
We have been married by the Muslim church on May 4, 2002 and having trouble getting housing, insurance coverage.
Fox9 showed copies of both marriage certificates:
The Minneapolis Star Tribune, which hailed her “historic” election victory last week, is also finding discrepancies:
Hennepin County records show Omar applied for a marriage license in 2002 but never used it. It was not immediately known whom she planned to marry. Seven years later, Omar married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi in Eden Prairie, according to their marriage record. Elmi could not be reached for comment. Minnesota courts have no records of Omar and Elmi filing for divorce.
Her campaign flatly denied that Elmi is her brother. It would only say that she and Ahmed Hirsi, who is pictured in campaign literature and is the father of their three children, are together and raising a family. The Star Tribune could not find records in Minnesota showing that the two ever married.
The Star Tribune is wrong that the 2002 marriage license was never used. The five-day marriage waiver filed said that marriage had already occurred. Perhaps they mean a marriage license was never returned.
But rather than address the issues related to the allegations, Omar and her campaign are lashing out at the media.
DFL State rep. candidate Ilhan Omar faces Q’s about marriage, claims that she married her brother. Her response: pic.twitter.com/bZLQ8cTxmR
— Courtney Godfrey (@courtneygodfrey) August 15, 2016
And in response to the Fox 9 report last night, reporter Tom Lyden received this threat from DFL official Conrad Zbikowski:
I love this threat from the Pres. of the Young DFL. Petulance at its finest. pic.twitter.com/PRTPhvFOWk
— Tom Lyden (@LydenFOX9) August 16, 2016
Clearly her campaign and the DFL party are concerned these allegations could derail her candidacy. But explaining the situation rather than attacking the media, particularly in the case of the Star Tribune friendly media, would seem to be the best course.
Stay tuned for updates.