Fact check: Rep. Ilhan Omar was not photographed at an al-Qaida training camp

Adrienne Dunn, USA TODAY

The claim: Ilhan Omar was at an al-Qaida training camp in Somalia 

When Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., was sworn into office in January 2019, she became one of the first two Muslim women in Congress,  alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

Throughout her term, Omar has faced vitriolic, racist comments and threats from her political opponents and members of the American public. Omar's religion is often central to the attacks, with people accusing her of treason and association with al-Qaida.

Lately, accounts on Facebook and Instagram have shared a black-and-white image of a woman in a headscarf holding an automatic weapon. The image appears to be a screenshot and has a caption that states, "Here is your precious congresswoman at an Al' Qaida training camp in Somalia. She's trying to get this photo blocked."

The caption itself doesn't claim that the woman in the photo is Omar, but text posted along with the image by many people calls her out by name. 

"Omar Ilhan congresswoman from the Democratic Party ...forgot about this picture," one post states.

"Oops! Gotcha photo of the anti-American, anti-Semetic Somali Islamic terrorist, Minneapolis U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar," another says.

Is that Omar in the photograph?

No, the woman in the photo is not Omar.

This photo was taken in 1978 by the Associated Press and can be viewed online

The AP caption reads: "A woman recruit of the Somali Army checks her automatic weapon at a military training campus at Halane, Mogadishu, on Feb. 25, 1978. On the right is her instructor. President Siad Barre said at a news conference that regular Somali military units have not yet been dispatched in the Ogaden region to avoid international complications."

Omar was born in 1982, meaning that the photo was taken four years before she was alive. 

Omar addressed the viral image in October 2019 and said: "This is pure propaganda designed to stir up hate and violence coming from a GOP state rep. Facebook's unwillingness to crack down on hate speech and misinformation is not just threatening my life, but our democracy."

Our rating: False

The claim in the post has been rated FALSE. Omar is not the woman in the photo and it was not taken at an al-Qaida training camp in Somalia. The photo was taken in 1978 — four years before Omar was born — and captured an image from the Ogaden War when Somali forces were receiving support from the U.S.

Our fact check sources: 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Ilhan Omar wasn't photographed at al-Qaida training camp

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