by Leo Hohmann
She burst on the scene last August when she upset a 44-year incumbent Democrat in the Minnesota state primary elections to become the nation’s first female Muslim state legislator.
Ilhan Omar, the 34-year-old community organizer who came to America as a refugee from Somalia, was touted by Democrats as a model success story.
But on Thursday Omar made her mark in another way.
She was one of only two members of the Minnesota State House to vote against a bill that would allow life insurance companies to deny payouts to the beneficiaries of terrorists who die in violent attacks on Americans.
The House voted 127-2 to pass the bill, which now moves on to a vote in the State Senate.
Omar, who represents the heavily immigrant Cedar Riverside area of Minneapolis, was joined by fellow Democratic Rep. John Lesch of St. Paul in voting against the bill.
Omar’s vote sticks out because at least 42 Somali refugees have been confirmed by the FBI to have left the U.S. to join overseas terrorist organizations, including al-Shabab, the al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia, and ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Dozens of other Somali-Americans have been tried and/or convicted of providing material support to overseas terrorists.
The Minnesota insurance bill was introduced by Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, in response to Syed Farook’s jihadist rampage in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015 in which he shot and killed 14 people and injured 22 at an office Christmas party. Farook made sure his life insurance policies worth $275,000 were valid before conducting the deadly shooting with help from his wife, Tashfeen Malik.
After Farook died in a shootout with police, his mother fought to remain the beneficiary of the life insurance policies. The insurance company balked and the case has gone to court.
Democratic Rep. Debra Hilstrom said the goal of the Minnesota bill “is to make certain that folks don’t benefit [from terrorism] and this limits the beneficiary to the premiums that were paid in. It limits the exposure for the insurance company when someone is committing an act of terrorism.”
Debra Anderson, leader of the ACT For America chapter in Minnesota, praised the legislators who voted for the bill Thursday.
“Rep. Ilan Omar’s vote today clearly demonstrated her allegiance to the best interests of the jihadists’ families, like in Palestine, rather than acting on the behalf of the victims of terrorists,” she said. “Disturbing to say the least.”
“This incident also clearly demonstrated the legitimate concerns of freedom-loving Americans regarding increased political access by Muslims who exhibit an obvious allegiance to Muslims and Shariah law rather than all Americans and the U.S. Constitution.
“I am very grateful for the astute, courageous legislators who are looking out for the best interests of all Minnesotans.”
If passed by the Senate and signed into law by Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, the law would apply to all current and future life insurance contracts.