Video: Ilhan Omar Responds to Trump Claim She Is Pro-Al-Qaeda—'I Will Not Dignify It With an Answer'

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has refused to engage with President Donald Trump's repeated allegation that she is "pro-Al-Qaeda," as the president's latest racism scandal rumbles on.

Trump's reheated attack on the Minnesota representative came one day after he told a group of four progressive congresswomen of color to "go back" to their home countries, even though three of the four were born in the U.S.

True to form, he doubled down on the racist trope on Monday, refusing to apologize and actually demanding an apology from those he had launched the rambling tirade against. The president said he gets angry "when I hear people speaking about how wonderful Al-Qaeda is." He then claimed, "That was Omar. How great Al-Qaeda is."

"She said you can hold their chest out, you can—'When I think of America, huh. When I think of Al-Qaeda, I can hold my chest out,'" he continued.

The four women—colloquially known as "The Squad"—held a press conference on Monday to denounce Trump's comments. Asked how she felt about Trump's Al-Qaeda accusation—which he has made multiple times in the past—Omar refused to engage.

"I will not dignify it with an answer," she told reporters. "Because I know that every single Islamophobe, every single person who is hateful, who is driven by an ideology of 'othering' as this president is, rejoices in us responding to that and us defending ourselves."

Trump's claim that Omar has been publicly pro-Al-Qaeda is demonstrably false. The president and some of his supporters have suggested that the congresswoman underplayed the severity of the extremist group and the 9/11 attacks on multiple occasions, though these allegations rely on misinformation and out-of-context quotes.

Two instances form the basis of Trump's attacks. The first was Omar's 2013 appearance on the Twin Cities PBS show BelAhdan, during which the congresswoman—who is originally from Somalia—told host Ahmed Tharwat that extremism is legitimized when perpetrators are elected to office by citizens. This, in turn, makes citizens less willing to speak out against such extremism, she said.

But Omar then stressed that when "entities like Al-Qaeda or Al-Shabaab" are rejected by voters, "it is easier for you to say 'this is not OK,' because it is not a legitimized action, right, by laws."

Omar also joked with Tharwat about how Arabic names and words relating to violent groups like Al-Qaeda feed into sensationalism around Islamic extremism, especially in the U.S. As an example, she recalled a terrorist ideology professor at her college, whose "shoulders went up" every time he said the words "Al-Qaeda."

Though she was laughing when discussing American reactions to the group's name, any accusation that Omar was praising Al-Qaeda in this interview is false.

More recently, Omar came under fire for allegedly undermining the significance of the 9/11 attacks in a speech to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in March.

Trump and others claim she dismissed the attacks by saying "some people did something," but the line—which was used in viral videos and plastered on The New York Post's front page—was taken out of context.

The full quote was one addressing prejudice against Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11. "Far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I'm tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it," she said.

"CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."

During Monday's press conference, Omar said it was "complete hypocrisy" for the president to demand she and her colleagues leave the country for criticizing the U.S. "When this President ran and until today, he talked about everything that was wrong in this country and how he's going to make it great," she told reporters.

"Every single statement that we make is from a place of extreme love for every single person in this country," Omar added.

Ilhan Omar, Donald Trump, al-qaeda
Ilhan Omar speaks during a press conference to address remarks made by President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2019. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty
Video: Ilhan Omar Responds to Trump Claim She Is Pro-Al-Qaeda—'I Will Not Dignify It With an Answer' | Politics
{{label}}
{{title}}
EDITOR'S PICK