Ilhan Omar was recruited by a foreign government, received funding from a foreign government, and passed sensitive information through intermediates to Iran, a Florida court has been told.
The claims came during testimony by Kuwati-born Canadian businessman Alan Bender, who was giving evidence in the trial of Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al-Thani. The Qatari emir’s brother stands accused of ordering his American bodyguard to murder two people, and of holding an American citizen hostage. His deposition, obtained by Al Arabiya English, was authenticated by the attorney for the plaintiffs, according to the publication.
Speaking from Toronto by video link, Bender told the Florida District Court that 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 his sworn deposition, the three officials told 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 testified that the officials asked him to recruit American politicians and journalists as Qatari assets, and that when he objected, was told that several prominent figures were already on the payroll. US Congresswoman Omar was described as the “jewel in the crown,” he said.
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,” he added.
The deposition shows he further told the court that, during a 2017 meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Omar swore allegiance to him. At the time she was a junior state representative in Minnesota.
Omar was said to also have passed information to Qatar which was subsequently handed along to Iran, and was actively involved in recruiting other American politicians to likewise work for Qatar, Bender testified.
“The best thing money can buy are American officials because they are the cheapest of the cheapest costing officials in the world,” the Qatari officials were said to have told him.
“Since the day she was elected, Saudi Arabian trolls and mouthpieces have targeted Rep. Omar with misinformation and conspiracy theories,” a spokesperson for Omar wrote in a statement to The JerusalemPost.
“The latest outlandishly absurd story from a Saudi-funded media outlet is of course false and only the latest in that trend,” the statement said. “The only people Rep. Omar represents in Washington are the people of Minnesota’s 5th District. She will continue to speak out against human rights violations around the world—whether it is war crimes in Yemen or the caging of children at our border—regardless of who commits them.”
Bender’s testimony has been questioned and reports, including this one by the Post, have led to speculation, especially on Twitter.
Omar has already been found by the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board to have broken campaign finance rules, by improperly using campaign money for out-of-state travel while a state representative. Conservative group Judicial Watch has also called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Omar for alleged offenses, including immigration fraud. But these claims go much further.
Omar was one of 107 House Democrats who co-signed a letter Thursday, calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reverse his announcement on the legality of West Bank settlements. The signatories claimed such a move “severely damaged prospects for peace” in the region.