Daily Mail Somali Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar told friends years ago that the man who went on to become her second husband was in fact her brother. And now for the first time one of those friends has come forward to reveal exactly how Omar and Ahmed Elmi scandalized the Somali community in Minneapolis.
Abdihakim Osman is the first person to go on record to speak of how Omar said she wanted to get her brother papers so he could stay in the United States, at a time when she was married to her first husband Ahmed Hirsi. But hardly anyone realized that meant marrying him.
No one knew there had been a wedding until the media turned up the marriage certificate years later,’ Osman, 40, exclusively told DailyMail.com.
Osman’s revelations are sure to renew calls for an investigation into the Minnesota freshman 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. 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.
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.
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.’ 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.
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.
DailyMail.com 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.