North Dakota State Lawmaker Falsely Claims Picture Shows Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar in an Al Qaeda Camp

Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, speaks before a legislative committee in Bismarck during in 2015. TOM STROMME, Bismarck Tribune

A Republican state Senator from Minot has shared on Facebook a photo he claims is of Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar holding a weapon in an al Qaeda training camp.

Here’s the post:

The photo is not of Omar. It’s an Associated Press photo of military training camps in Mogadishu. It was taken in 1978.

Rep. Omar, a graduate of North Dakota State University, was born in 1982.

Senator Larsen did not immediately respond to phone calls I made to his cell phone or home number.

It is difficult to express how frustrating it is, as a conservative, to see Republican officeholders do this sort of thing. Rep. Omar says and does things that are offensive enough without fabricating phantom connections to Islamic extremism. In fact, Omar often uses accusations of racism and Islamophobia to deflect what is often legitimate criticism, and that defense is stronger when Republican elected officials make buffoonish comments or social media posts about her.

People who wish to defeat Omar and those who think like her in the political arena should not stoop to this sort of nonsense.

If Senator Larsen meant this as a joke, shame on him. He should know better.

If he believes it, I think we may need to question his competency to hold elected office.

UPDATE 5:10pm: Senator Larsen hasn’t responded to me yet, but he has responded to commenters on Facebook, and it seems pretty clear he believes the photo is real. He refers to Omar as an “elected terrorist.”

By the way, earlier this year Democratic House Minority Leader Josh Boschee (D-Fargo) suggested that a newly-formed ethics committee could address these sorts of controversial posts from state elected officials. I think perhaps Larsen has shown just how bad an idea that is.

Better to let people like Larsen be transparent about how they see the world. All the better for voters to make informed choices.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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