Recent events around Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar (D) were not the first controversies she’s faced while serving as the first Somali-American woman in the House. In the past few months, Representative Omar had accused AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) of manipulating the government with Jew money, and claimed supporters of Israel had ‘dual loyalty,’ both were widely criticized as Anti-Semitic. More recently, Omar had referred to 9/11 as “some people did something” at a CAIR event, greatly undervaluing the horrific events of that dreadful day.
However, this was not the first time Ilham Omar expressed troubling priorities. Back in 2016, shortly after she was elected to the Minnesota House of Representative, during the sentencing of 9 Minnesota Somali-Americans who were charged with attempting to join ISIS. She was one of 13 parties to send in a request for leniency, according to Fox9.
The sentencing was for Abdirahman Yasin Daud, who was charged with purchasing fake passports for the gang to join the fight with ISIS, which is textbook treason. He attempted to aid people who tried join the enemy of American and kill other Americans.
In her letter to Judge Davis, who presided over the sentencing, Rep. Omar wanted him to consider “the ramifications of sentencing young men who made a consequential mistake.” A mistake which might have cost the lives of countless American soldiers. She adds that once released, society will view the former ISIS recruits as “nobody’s” with no expectations of them, and they will be shunned. Other extremists will view them as “martyrs” and use them to inspire future recruiting efforts.
Rather than throwing the book at people who betrayed their country, Omar wanted us to use “compassion” towards the monsters attempting to aid an evil organization. These people didn’t walk down this path on their own; it was “marginalization” that inspired the evil act. Their inspiration to commit evil acts stems from “alienation,” not an evil ideology. She is blaming America for creating internal terrorists.
Because we use this compassionate treatment for drug addicts, we, in her words, must do the same for people who made the conscious choice to literally join ISIS.
She explains that this would set a dangerous long-term precedent of punishing monsters rather than aiding, as she puts it, “predisposed victims.” The victims being ISIS recruits, not the people murdered by ISIS.
You can read the full story below:
Honorable Judge Davis,
As you undoubtedly deliberate with great caution the sentencing of nine recently convicted Somali-American men, I bring to your attention the ramifications of sentencing young men who made a consequential mistake to decades in federal prison. Incarcerating 20-year-old men for 30 or 40 years is essentially a life sentence. Society will have no expectations of the to be 50 or 60-year-old released prisoners; it will view them with distrust and revulsion. Such punitive measures not only lack efficacy, they inevitably create an environment in which extremism can flourish, aligning with the presupposition of terrorist recruitment: “Americans do not accept you and continue to trivialize your value. Instead of being a nobody, be a martyr.”
The best deterrent to fanaticism is a system of compassion. We must alter our attitude and approach; if we truly want to affect change, we should refocus our efforts on inclusion and rehabilitation. A long-term prison sentence for one who chose violence to combat direct marginalization is a statement that our justice system misunderstands the guilty. A restorative approach to justice assesses the lure of criminality and addresses it.
The desire to commit violence is not inherent to people — it is the consequences of systematic alienation; people seek violent solutions when the process established for enacting change is inaccessible to them. Fueled by disaffection turned to malice, if the guilty were willing to kill and be killed fighting perceived injustice, imagine the consequence of them hearing, “I believe you can be rehabilitated. I want you to become part of my community, and together we will thrive.” We use this form of distributive justice for patients with chemical dependencies; treatment and societal reintegration. The most effective penance is making these men ambassadors of reform.
The restorative approach provides a long-term solution – though the self-declared Islamic State may soon suffer defeat, their radical approach to change-making will continue as it has throughout history – by criminalizing the undergirding construct rather than its predisposed victims. Therein, this ruling can set a precedent and has the potential to be a landmark case in addressing extremism.
Thank you for your careful attention,
State Representative-Elect – MN 60B
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