Kellyanne Conway referred to a fictitious “Bowling Green attack” to defend President Donald Trump’s ban on travel and immigration days before she said she misspoke on MSNBC’s Hardball.
During a brief video interview with TMZ on January 29, Conway referenced the event that did not happen.
“The fact is that it was President Obama and the Congress who identified these seven countries so President Trump is just following on,” Conway says in the video. “President Obama suspended the Iraq refugee program for six months in 2011 and no one certainly covered—I think nobody noticed.
“He did that because, I assume, there were two Iraqis who came here, got radicalized, joined ISIS, and then were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green attack on our brave soldiers,” she added.
Conway told The Daily Beast she was referencing the 2011 arrest of two Iraqi refugees in Bowling Green for attacks on the U.S. in Iraq. According to the Department of Justice, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan “admitted using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against U.S. soldiers in Iraq” and “attempted to send weapons and money to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) for the purpose of killing U.S. soldiers.”
In 2013, ABC News reported the FBI was led to Alwan in 2009 after his fingerprint matched one found on bomb parts that were recovered in Iraq in 2005. The unexploded bombs were discovered in the aftermath of an IED attack that killed four U.S. soldiers. Alwan was admitted as a refugee to the U.S. in 2009 before the FBI matched his print.
“The terrorists were in Bowling Green and their attack occurred in Iraq,” Conway told The Daily Beast via email. “Read the ABC News piece I cite. (Which now has heavy traffic so I am pleased we raised awareness of this). They were radicalized members of al Qaeda who entered the US and bragged about attacking American soldiers."
"What they did bothered the Obama Administration and it should bother us all," she said, referring to the 2011 decision to conduct a review of some 57,000 Iraqi refugees who had been recently admitted into the country as a result of the Kentucky arrests.
"I meant to say masterminds or terrorists and not massacre. It does not detract from the evil they perpetrated and the evil that others may wish to perpetrate if they lie about why they are here. They remain in jail."
The same day she spoke to TMZ, Conway told Cosmopolitan about the fictitious “massacre.” Just days later, on February 2, Conway discussed the “massacre” again during an interview on MSNBC with Chris Matthews.
Conway later acknowledged that she misspoke after the MSNBC interview and meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists.” She also told Cosmopolitan in response to their story: "Frankly they were terrorists in Bowling Green but their massacre took place in Iraq. At least this got clear-thinking people to focus on what did happen in Bowling Green.”
Update, 2/6/2017, 3:30 PM: This story has been updated to include comment from Conway.