House candidate Burgess Owens frequently promoted content from Alex Jones, including an anti-Muslim smear against a Gold Star father

An image of Burgess Owens and Alex Jones

Citation Molly Butler / Media Matters

Right-wing commentator and congressional candidate Burgess Owens frequently shared content from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars website. In one instance, Owens promoted an anti-Muslim smear against Gold Star father Khizr Khan that claimed that he might share responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and the death of his son in Iraq. 

Media Matters previously documented that Owens, who is running for Congress in Utah's 4th Congressional District, plagiarized numerous passages in his book Why I Stand. In May, Owens appeared on a QAnon program and asked for money and support for his campaign. (He did not directly talk about the violence-linked conspiracy theory, which the FBI has said is a potential terrorist threat, but attacked Democrats as evil, among other things.) 

Owens has also pushed anti-immigrant and conspiratorial rhetoric. In 2019, he praised and helped raise money for the allegedly fraudulent group We Build the Wall. During that fundraising appearance, Owens denigrated the character of undocumented immigrants and claimed that the political left knows that it “cannot depend on the Black vote en masse [to] vote for them like they have in the past. So they want to keep the borders open so that they can gain more power, gain more prestige. And that's not the American way.” 

On Twitter, prior to starting his run for Congress, Owens frequently promoted Alex Jones and his Infowars website and tagged Jones' now-banned Twitter account. Jones is one of the country’s leading conspiracy theorists who has falsely claimed that the government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and the tragedies at Sandy Hook, Columbine, Oklahoma City, and the Boston Marathon, among many others. 

In one instance, Owens promoted a 2016 article that pushed the false claim that Trump may have actually won the 2016 popular vote because “three million votes in the U.S. presidential election were cast by illegal aliens, according to Greg Phillips of the organization.” Election law expert Richard Hasen told PolitiFact, “There is no credible evidence I have seen to show large numbers of noncitizens voting in U.S. elections anywhere. … The idea that 3 million noncitizens could have illegally voted in our elections without being detected is obscenely ludicrous." 

On August 4, 2016, Owens promoted a despicable Infowars article smearing Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father whose son Army Capt. Humayun Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004. Khan spoke about his son at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. 

Following Khan’s speech, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and right-wing media personalities and outlets launched a smear campaign against him.

In the Infowars article that Owens shared, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Wayne Madsen claimed that Khan co-founded “an academic periodical that seeks to defend the arcane Sharia law to a legal system based on Western jurisprudence.” The article also concocted an evidence-free conspiracy theory that Khan’s legal work may have helped the 9/11 hijackers enter the United States. The Infowars article additionally claimed that in “making it easy for Saudis, Emiratis, and others to game the U.S. immigration system, Khizr Khan shares in some of the responsibility for his son’s death”: 

Khizr Khan claims he is a “legal consultant” in Charlottesville, although he is not a member of the Virginia Bar. Given the nature of Charlotteville’s status as a sanctuary city, Khan’s legal background and his work with the Muslim community in Virginia, it is likely that Khan offers help to Muslims who have overstayed their student visas in the university and sanctuary city to obtain permanent residence.

It should be recalled that seven of the 9/11 hijackers obtained Virginia driver’s licenses, three of which were used as official identification to check in for flights on September 11, 2001. Perhaps if Khizr Khan had not been so willing to help dodgy Muslim “students” overstay their visas and seek workarounds to the law, Virginia might have been able to prevent the hijackers fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses.

And had there been no 9/11, there certainly would have been no U.S. invasion of Iraq and Humayun Khan would have realized his dream of attending the University of Virginia law school and becoming a military lawyer. In making it easy for Saudis, Emiratis, and others to game the U.S. immigration system, Khizr Khan shares in some of the responsibility for his son’s death.

In an August 1, 2016, PBS interview, Khan stated of Sharia law and Muslims in the United States:

Sharia law cannot be implemented in this United States, because this distorted Sharia law is against the basic principle of equal dignity, equal protection of law in the United States.

What are we talking about? These are political statements to gather votes and create hatred and dislike. I would love to sit down and talk on, what Sharia law are we talking about? There is no such thing.

These are laws of these countries. These are hodgepodge of various traditions, various British laws, various colonized times, laws, legal system. There is no such thing. The United States has the Islamic law, which is equal protection of law under the 14th Amendment.