Far-right message boards created and helped spread a baseless conspiracy theory suggesting that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) ordered a Washington, D.C., woman’s killing. The conspiracy theory has spread onto multiple social media platforms, where some content promoting it has gone viral.
On August 27, a young woman was reportedly stabbed to death while walking dogs in Washington, D.C. Despite reports that local police consider it to be a random attack by a suspect whose “adulthood has been marked by periods of homelessness and hospitalizations for mental illness,” far-right message boards have without any evidence connected the woman’s killing to Omar. The baseless claim has since spread onto social media platforms including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.
How the baseless claim spread
On August 29, an anonymous user on 4chan’s “/pol/,” a message board known for spreading white nationalism and conspiracy theories, claimed that the D.C. stabbing victim looked “very similar” to a woman who has alleged that her husband had an affair with Omar (which her husband has denied). The 4chan user claimed that the slain dog walker “could easily have been mistaken for” the other woman, calling it a “possible Omaracide.” The post received more than 300 replies, with many users agreeing that the conspiracy theory “seems likely” and lauding the original poster.
Later that evening, a user on pro-gun forum AR15.com cited “/pol/” in asking, “Was the murder of a random redhead actually a political assassination plot to benefit Ilhan Omar?”
During the morning of August 30, the baseless claim spread to subreddits “r/The_Donald” and “r/conspiracy,” both of which are also known for spreading conspiracy theories. The “r/The_Donald” user posted largely the same language as the 4chan post, and “r/conspiracy” posted an image of the 4chan post. The post on “r/The_Donald” received thousands of “upvotes,” ranking it higher on the subreddit and helping it to spread.
That afternoon, a far-right YouTube channel posted a video pushing the conspiracy theory titled “Did Ilhan Omar Order a Hit Job On Her Boyfriend's Wife?!” The video directly cited the post from “r/The_Donald” and has nearly 90,000 views.
That evening, Twitter account @newanddangerous tweeted much of the same language as the 4chan post, and the tweet has received nearly 10,000 retweets.
Among those who have shared @newanddangerous’ tweet include conspiracy theorist Devon Stack; a Pizzagate conspiracy theorist who was previously thrown out of a Joe Biden event; and a former adult film star turned far-right conspiracy theorist. The tweet was also shared over Telegram by a far-right channel.
Also on August 31, another QAnon account on a site called poal also shared the 4chan thread, saying “/pol/” had “nailed it.” Before It’s News, a conspiracy theory site known for pushing falsities, including Pizzagate, cross-posted an article the following day questioning if Omar had “tried to murder her new lover’s wife.” It also cited 4chan.
The conspiracy theory also continued to circulate on 4chan -- one user even cited @newanddangerous’ tweet with language based on the original 4chan post -- and on “r/The_Donald,” where a user posted an image of the August 29 gun forum post. In total, there have been more than 400 posts on 4chan about the conspiracy theory.