Last week, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway justified the president’s controversial immigration and refugee ban by pointing to a fake terrorist attack purportedly committed by refugees that she called “the Bowling Green Massacre.” On Monday, Cosmopolitan revealed that she had actually done this before, referring to the “Bowling Green massacre” in an interview the publication had conducted with her in January. That suggests that Conway’s now-famous and widely mocked error wasn’t a slip of the tongue, but actually a propaganda line she’s been using for weeks to justify Trump’s “Muslim ban.”
That’s not even the most jaw-dropping part of Cosmo’s new report. The really stunning part is that when Cosmo reached out to Conway for comment on Friday, the senior White House official lied again about what happened in Bowling Green.
“It was a plot to massacre and they were Bowling Green terrorists,” Conway wrote in a text message to Cosmo’s reporter. “That's what I should have said. I clarified.”
This is not true, at all. There was no plot to massacre anyone in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Conway lied in January, she lied on MSNBC, and she’s still lying — even after days of being mocked by the national media, thousands of people around the country, and even a fake memorial in Bowling Green itself.
What actually happened in Bowling Green wasn’t a massacre at all
In 2010, an unnamed man approach an Iraqi refugee living in Bowling Green named Waad Ramadan Alwan and asked if he’d be interested in shipping weapons and money to Iraqi insurgents. Alwan said yes, and recruited another refugee living in the town, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, to help him out.
Over the course of the next several months, Alwan and Hammadi deposited machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, Stinger missiles, and C4 plastic explosives in warehouses and tractors that they thought belonged to insurgent allies.
But the entire thing was a ruse. The unnamed man who invented the whole scheme was an FBI source, and the weapons (purchased locally) were immediately scooped up by bureau agents. Alwan and Hammadi were arrested in May 2011, the only terrorism-related arrests of Iraqi refugees in US history.
The key point here is that Alwan and Hammadi were not plotting a domestic terrorist attack; their goal was to send the weapons to Iraq. The FBI also didn’t bust up a “massacre” in the making, as Conway said; they busted up a terrorist support ring that they had helped invent themselves.
In another follow-up with Cosmo reporters, which took place on Sunday, Conway made up more facts. She said that “these two Iraqi nationals came to the US with a plan of death and destruction,” but there’s no evidence they were planning to send weapons back until the FBI talked to them.
By now, there is no excuse for Conway not knowing this. Basically every major national media outlet reported the details of what happened in Bowling Green after Conway’s MSNBC goof. The FBI’s official press release containing all of these details is easily Google-able.
Conway seems not to care. She seems more interested in backing up her boss and refusing to admit any error than getting things right — even after being called out for days at this point.
Conway’s job, as far as anyone can tell, is to serve as one of Trump’s chief media surrogates. But Conway’s brazen lies call into question whether she should be allowed, by the media, to appear on their network or in their pages. This Sunday, CNN refused to let Conway appear on its network — in part, the New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg reports, because of “serious questions about her credibility.”
That’s soft-pedaling it. There’s no need to question her credibility. On this issue, she doesn’t have any.