Flashback: Dem Rep. Ilhan Omar sought ‘compassion’ in case of men charged with planning to join ISIS

In November 2016, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., wrote Judge Michael Davis, seeking “compassion” and a “restorative approach to justice” in the case of nine Minnesota men charged with planning to join the terrorist group ISIS.

Omar wasn’t the only Minnesota lawmaker seeking leniency for the wannabe terrorists.

According to Fox 9:

The 13 letters sent to Judge Davis on behalf of Daud include similar pleas for leniency from Minneapolis City Council member Abdi Warsame, a Minneapolis Public Schools dean of students, several youth program coordinators and Daud’s own mother and brother. Warsame’s brief letter said Daud “is a young man who has a future ahead of him.”

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The defense has pushed Judge Davis for lighter sentences, saying the young, immigrant men were caught between two worlds – the United States and pride in their Somali heritage. The defense argued the young men were lured by propaganda on the internet that suggested that a “true Muslim” should be in Syria saving other Muslims who are being killed and trying to restore the Caliphate.

But responses filed by federal prosecutors on Thursday show the feds are holding firm on their request for tough sentences. In this case of defendant Guled Omar, prosecutors said the young man attempted to “make light of what is an extraordinarily dangerous conspiracy. Far from comedians engaged in slapstick comedy in black and white film, ISIL’s members engage in wholesale murder, rape, and cultural annihilation. But unlike the Three Stooges referenced by counsel for Omar, ISIL films in full color.”

And yet, Omar was elected to Congress in 2018 anyway.

Here’s the full text of her letter to Judge Davis as provided by Fox 9:

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,

Ilhan Omar
State Representative-Elect – MN 60B

Remember, elections have consequences…

Here’s video of the report, courtesy of Fox 9:

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