A man has been arrested after making threatening phone calls, in which he referred to the first Muslim members of Congress Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), federal prosecutors said on Friday.
It’s another in a series of threats against Omar. Only two weeks ago, a man was arrested over threats he made to the congresswoman that referred to her Muslim faith and authorities are investigating a bomb threat a woman made against her in March. Omar said she has seen a spike in death threats against her recently.
John Kless, 49, of Tamarac, Florida, made a number of calls on Tuesday. He called Tlaib’s office and left a message in which he unleashed a tirade against Omar and used racial epithets to describe her and Tlaib. He referred to Tlaib as “Taliban” and Omar as “towel head” in his voicemail for Tlaib.
His rant against Omar mentioned her remarks about 9/11, which were taken out of their original context by conservative media as well as President Donald Trump, and used to fan the flames of Islamophobic and racist vitriol against the congresswoman.
Omar spoke at a March 23 conference hosted by a local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and referred to discrimination and profiling of the Muslim American community after the 9/11 attacks.
She said, “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange, that I am going to try to make myself look pleasant. You have to say this person is looking at me strange, I am not comfortable with it. I am going to talk to them and ask them why. Because that is a right you have.”
Omar’s office clarified later that she misspoke because CAIR was founded before 9/11. Trump tweeted out a heavily edited video that only highlighted the portion of Omar’s remarks where she said, “Some people did something” and showed footage of the World Trade Center on fire. Omar said threats against her increased after Trump tweeted the video.
In his voicemail for Tlaib, Kless said, “it was your Taliban, bitch, who fucking opened up her fucking towel head mouth about ‘some people did it.’”
Kless was charged with making an interstate threat and some of his weapons have been seized, according to the Washington Post. Bail was set at $25,000.
Kless’ first phone call was to Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) who recently announced his presidential bid. Kless complained about “illegals coming in” and used racial epithets to refer to people on welfare. Kless said, “The day you come after our guns is the day you’ll be dead.”
His last call was to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who is also running for president. Kless called Booker several racial epithets and said, “We need to kill all you.” His call to Booker also mentioned Omar and her statement about 9/11. He also told Booker, “tell that motherfucking towel head to shut up.”
According to the complaint, Kless also said, “You know what, she’s lucky she’s just getting death threats, referring to previous threats against Omar. “So are you. All right? … ‘Cuz the day when the bell tolls … and this country comes to a war, there will be no more threats.”
Two weeks ago, police arrested and charged 55-year-old New York resident Patrick W. Carlineo, Jr. with threatening to assault Omar. Carlineo made a call on March 21 to Omar’s office in Washington, D.C. and he said, “Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she’s a fucking terrorist. I’ll put a bullet in her fucking skull.”
When interviewed by the FBI, Carlineo said he “hates radical Muslims in our government” and that he loves President Donald Trump.
There have also been reports that the LAPD is investigating a March incident involving a woman who threatened a bomb attack when she called the Hilton Hotel in Woodland Hills, where Omar was scheduled to speak that day for the Council on American Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles’ fourth annual Valley Banquet. During her speech in March, hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the hotel where Omar was speaking.