Yet another Republican official is out there pushing a long-debunked conspiracy theory about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar — and he doubled down even after being told it’s false.
North Dakota state Sen. Oley Larsen claimed on Facebook Monday that a black and white photo of a woman holding a rifle and wearing a headscarf was Omar, who he falsely said was pictured at an “Al Qaida training camp in Somalia.”
“She is trying to get this picture blocked,” Larsen wrote alongside the photo. “Share it everywhere.”
The problem? The Associated Press took that photo in Mogadishu on Feb. 25, 1978 — four years before Omar, the first Muslim refugee elected to the U.S. Congress, was born.
The Grand Forks Herald first reported that Larsen had posted the photo.
Omar responded to Larsen on Monday night, referring to his post as “pure propaganda.” She also slammed Facebook for its infamous unwillingness to remove false posts from the site.
“This is pure propaganda designed to stir up hate and violence coming from a GOP state rep,” Omar wrote on Twitter Monday night. “Facebook's unwillingness to crack down on hate speech and misinformation is not just threatening my life but our democracy.”
Larsen has since taken down the post, though he did not respond to requests for comment from Port or the Washington Post.
But in another comment on his Facebook page, which has also since been deleted, Larsen doubled down on the falsehood, and wrote that he is “begging to let everyone know [Omar] is an elected terrorist.”
Elected Republicans, including President Trump, have routinely lobbed racist conspiracy theories about Omar, including that she married her brother to help him obtain permanent residency in the U.S.
In fact, Omar has previously been forced to address the photo in question because of its ubiquity among conspiracy theorists online. In August, Omar tweeted, “Really feel sorry for the people at @snopes, fact checking outrageous claims like this must suck! It seems like you can make any kind of dangerous, disgusting and disturbing claim against me and have it get traction.”
And earlier this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to request additional security for Omar because of the threats to her life.
Cover: North Dakota state Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, speaks March 4, 2015, to members of the House Finance &Taxation Committee on SB 2165. (AP Photo/The Bismarck Tribune, Tom Stromme)