Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) told friends years ago that the man who went on to become her second husband was in fact her brother, according to a Somali community leader who has gone on the record for the first time.
Abdihakim Osman, a Minneapolis Somali community leader, is the first friend to admit that Omar said she wanted to get her brother papers so he could stay in the United States, at a time when she was still married to her first husband, Ahmed Hirsi.
But the Minneapolis Somali community didn’t realize that meant marrying him because Omar and Elmi kept their wedding top secret.
‘No one knew there had been a wedding until the media turned up the marriage certificate years later,’ Osman, 40, told the Daily Mail.
Abdihakim Osman’s bombshell revelations are sure to add weight to calls for an investigation into the Minnesota representative who has repeatedly refused to answer questions on her marriage to Elmi.
She originally said the idea that the spouses were also siblings were ‘baseless, absurd rumors‘, accusing journalists of Islamophobia, but has since stayed quiet.
DailyMail report: Her spokesman told Daily Mail that Omar, 37, does not comment on her family or personal life.
‘The Congresswoman is focused on the work her constituents sent her to Washington to accomplish,’ he said.
Omar married her first husband Hirsi in 2002 in a Muslim ceremony that, like many in the immigrant community, was not registered with the state.
Their first child Isra was born the following year and a second followed.
But in the late 2000s Elmi appeared in Minneapolis, said Osman, who referred to Hirsi by his nickname ‘Southside’ throughout the interview.
‘People began noticing that Ilhan and Southside (Hirsi) were often with a very effeminate young guy,’ Osman said, who spoke in Somali through an interpreter.
‘He was very feminine in the way he dressed — he would wear light lipstick and pink clothes and very, very, short shorts in the summer. People started whispering about him.
‘[Hirsi] and Ilhan both told me it was Ilhan’s brother and he had been living in London but he was mixing with what were seen as bad influences that the family did not like.
‘So they sent him to Minneapolis as ”rehab’‘.’
Osman, who runs a popular Facebook blog called Xerta Shekh, which comments on Somali issues, said that Omar kept her marriage to Elmi quiet, with no one from the Somali community invited to the wedding.
He explained: ‘When [Hirsi] and Ilhan got married, a lot of people were invited. It was a big Islamic wedding uniting two large clans in the Minneapolis community.
‘I would say there were 100-150 people there.’
But, he said: ‘When she married Elmi, no one even knew about it.’
Osman said at the time Hirsi was better known than Omar among Somalis. ‘He was a footballer, he promoted a lot of Somali shows, he was very popular.
‘So the scandal was about [Hirsi’s] brother-in-law more than Ilhan’s brother.’
It has long been rumored that Omar and Elmi are brother and sister.
But because of a lack of paperwork in war-torn Somalia where they were both born, positive proof of their relationship has never been uncovered.
The first report that Omar and her husband were siblings appeared on the website Somalispot in 2016. It said of Elmi, 34: ‘As soon as Ilhan Omar married him he started university at her alma 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.’
The New York Post reported last month that the FBI was investigating the marriage and had met with a source in Minneapolis who handed over ‘a trove of documents’ related to the marriage.
Any findings were to be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Department of Education, the paper reported. Anyone found guilty of committing marriage fraud faces up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.
Elmi and Omar married on February 12, 2009 at a Hennepin County office in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, southwest of Minneapolis, their marriage license shows. Omar said she and Hirsi had separated in 2008, and because their faith-based union was never recognized by law, neither is their separation.
Elmi and Omar said they lived together at an address in Columbia Heights, a suburb on the north side of the city.
The marriage was conducted by Christian minister Wilecia Harris. When DailyMail.com approached her last year, she would not discuss the ceremony or why a Muslim couple would have asked her to marry them.
She and her husband Marcus run the Great and Mighty Works Ministries in Richfield, Minnesota, which is described on its Facebook page as a ‘nondenominational, Bible believing, Bible teaching, and Bible living ministry that believes in being a living example of Jesus the anointed one!’
In a Facebook message, Marcus Harris told DailyMail.com: ‘My wife doesn’t want to be involved or interviewed about Congresswoman Omar.‘
‘It’s not going to happen, not now and not never.’
After their marriage Omar and Elmi moved to Fargo, where they both attended North Dakota State. But Omar and Hirsi were still together as husband and wife, Osman said.
‘She said she needed to get papers for her brother to go to school. We all thought she was just getting papers together to allow him to stay in this country.
‘Once she had the papers they could apply for student loans.
‘They both moved to North Dakota to go to school but she was still married to [Hirsi]. In the Somali way, the only marriage that mattered was the one in the mosque.
‘Ilhan came back to Minneapolis all the time to see her family, but her brother didn’t come with her.‘
Osman believes Elmi and Omar sought out someone outside the Somali community to conduct the ceremony because an imam would have known they were related and would have refused to marry them.
Osman, who is confined to a wheelchair after contracting polio before he moved to the United States in 2004, said he got to know Hirsi well in his first few years in Minneapolis. They are the same age, both having been born in January 1980.
They originally met when Hirsi was working in a barber shop and when they both regularly ate at the now-defunct Indian Ocean restaurant. When Hirsi opened his own business, Urban Hookah, which is also now closed, Osman occasionally helped out at the till.
Omar and Elmi eventually divorced in 2017 and she remarried Hirsi — with whom she had a third child — in a civil ceremony the following year, just in time for her election to Congress.
Osman scoffs at the idea that this was a real remarriage. ‘They never parted,‘ he said.
But last year she moved out of the family home and into a luxury penthouse apartment in the trendy Mill District of Minneapolis.
It was then revealed that Omar was having an affair with her chief fundraiser Tim Mynett, a married father-of-one, whose company received more than half a million dollars from her campaign last year.
Hirsi and Omar divorced in November. He married pediatric nurse Ladan Ahmed 37 days later.
Mynett and his wife Beth Jordan divorced in December. During the hearing in a Washington, D.C., courtroom, Jordan attempted to read out a statement about her husband’s affair with the congresswoman but was cut short by the judge.
Omar is running for a second term in Congress — where she has aligned herself with fellow leftist first-term congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts in the so-called ‘Squad.’
She faces three opponents in the Democratic primary to be held in August.
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