Did This Picture Show U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar in ‘Jihad Academy’?

A photograph of an unidentified woman was miscaptioned for political purposes.

  • Published 21 August 2019
  • Updated 22 October 2019


A photograph shows Ilhan Omar in "Jihad Academy."


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In August 2019, we came across social media posts presenting an old photograph of a woman holding a gun as if it showed U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is a naturalized citizen from Somalia and a Muslim, attending “Jihad School”:

The woman featured in this picture is not Ilhan Omar.

This photograph was taken at a military training facility in Mogadishu, Somalia, in February 1978 and is available via the Associated Press with the following caption:

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.

Although the pictured woman was not identified in this caption, it’s simply impossible for her to be Ilhan Omar, who wasn’t born until four years later (in 1982).

It should also be noted that this photograph doesn’t show a “Jihad School” or “Jihad Academy” training. In fact, this photograph was taken during the Ogaden War while the Somali military was receiving support from the United States.

In October 2019, the photograph attracted fresh attention when Sen. Oley Larsen, a Republican state senator from North Dakota, shared it on Facebook and called Omar in related comments an “elected terrorist.” Larsen removed the post following widespread criticism, including from Omar, who tweeted the post was “pure propaganda.”

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