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True or False: ‘Ilhan Omar is a Qatari Asset’

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Congresswoman Ilhan Omar on the campaign trail for Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders (Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images)
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar on the campaign trail for Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders (Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images)

News circulated yesterday accusing Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of being a Qatari asset.

The accusations were made by a Kuwaiti-born Canadian businessman in a deposition in connection with a trial in Florida of the Qatari emir’s brother for ordering the murder of two people and holding an American citizen hostage in Florida. The Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya obtained the deposition and reported that the contents were authenticated by the attorney for the plaintiffs.

You can read the 233-page deposition here, but in the meantime, here is the gist of the story as reported in English on Al Arabiya:

During the deposition, businessman Alan Bender said he met with Qatar’s Secretary to the Emir for Security Affairs Mohammad bin Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Masnad and two other senior Qatari officials. According to Bender, these officials said to him, “If it wasn’t for our cash, Ilhan Omar would be just another black Somali refugee in America collecting welfare and serving tables on weekends.”

Bender also testified the Qatari officials asked him to recruit American politicians and journalists to be Qatari assets. After he objected, the officials told him that a number of important people were already on Qatar’s payroll. Ilhan Omar was described as the “jewel in the crown,” he said.

Bender also testified that Al-Masnad said that Qatar “recruited Ilhan Omar from even way before she thought about becoming a government official.… They groomed her and arranged the foundation, the grounds, for her to get into politics way before she even showed interest. They convinced her.”

Bender alleged that Omar cooperated with the Qataris and received cash payments. He also claimed that  once Omar took office, she used her position in the House of Representatives to access sensitive information which she relayed to Qatar, and through them to Iran.

According to Bender’s deposition, Omar’s role in the Qatari influence campaign is crucial. She actively recruited other politicians on behalf of Qatar, he said. Bender said the Qataris claimed that “the best thing money can buy are American officials because they are the cheapest of the cheapest costing officials in the world,” according to his sworn testimony.

True or False?

A group of Muslim reformers, including Clarion National Correspondent Shireen Qudosi, who has compiled a laundry list of controversies and offenses by Ilhan Omar, believes that these allegations against Omar are part of a disinformation campaign.

The reason is simple: The evidence is flimsy, as it comes from the accusations of one man. David Steinberg, an editor and investigator with PJ Media who conducted a year-long investigation into Ilhan Omar, had this to say:

Shireen Qudosi shares:

“Even Hadiths, which are the source of many controversial second-hand sayings that have given rise to problematic theological material do a better job of verifying and vetting sources than this ‘Ilhan Omar is a Qatari asset’ story. Yet, the story is spreading like wildfire and it’s deeply unethical for any journalistic outlet to be feeding the frenzy knowing full well the claim is unsubstantiated.

In working to source and verify this story today, I’m proud to see colleagues in the counter-Islamist circuit — all critical of Ilhan Omar for well-documented reasons — unanimously shut down attempts to fan this story.”

The sentiment was echoed by other critics, including foreign policy and national security reporter Jordan Schachtel:

The unfounded accusation was also challenged by Dalia Al-Aqidi, who is poised to run against Ilhan Omar in 2020.

The fact that this story is now making rounds through a public deposition and documents creates an opportunity to investigate and question the events. Whether Ilhan Omar is a Qatari asset remains to be determined but based on the evidence so far there seems to be nothing more to this story at present, other than it is a rumor designed to antagonize and discredit the opposition. There are plenty of other valid reasons do discredit Ilhan Omar without reaching for straws and speculation.

 

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