John Kless, 49, left voicemails for Reps. Eric Salwell and Rashida Tlaib, and Senator Cory Booker. In all three of the messages, Kless threatened Rep. Ilhan Omar and attempted to link her to terrorist organizations. In the message to Booker, he made profane comments about the senator’s race and allegedly said, "Don't worry, you government officials will be in the graves where you belong."
In the message he left for Representative Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, Kless also targeted Omar.
“It was your Taliban bitch, the one who opened up her fucking towel head mouth about how ‘some people did it,’” Kless said, referencing Omar’s recent remarks about the September 11 attacks. “You know what? She’s lucky she’s just getting death threats, bitch. So are you. Alright? You’re lucky they’re just threats. Motherfucker. ‘Cause the day when the bell tolls, whore, and this country comes to a war, there will be no more threats. Your life will be on the fucking line.”
The message for Representative Salwell focused on the lawmaker’s position on gun control – he has made gun reform a central platform in his bid for the 2020 presidential election.
"The day you come after our guns, motherfucker, is the day you'll be dead," Kless said, according to a federal indictment.
On March 23, Rep. Omar delivered a 20 minute speech at an event for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Speaking about recent attacks, including the March 15 mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand, Omar spoke about fear in Muslim communities, saying “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.”
Some seized upon the phrasing, “some people did something” to say that Omar was minimizing the 2001 attacks. In response, President Trump tweeted an inflammatory video to his 60 million followers that spliced together footage from 9/11 with Omar’s speech. Many worried the video could incite violence against the congresswoman and encourage hatred against the Muslim American community.
“Because of her identity as a black, Muslim woman, she is the poster child for the administration to attack,” Hoda Hawa, the director of policy and advocacy at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told The Guardian.