A 55-year-old New York man has been arrested and charged with threatening to assault and murder Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar, a Muslim U.S. Congress member from Minnesota, federal prosecutors said.
Patrick Carlineo Jr. of Addison, New York, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday in a statement.
According to prosecutors, Carlineo spoke by telephone with one of Omar's staff members on March 21 and asked the employee: "Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she's a (expletive) terrorist. I'll put a bullet in her (expletive) skull."
Omar’s fellow freshman Democratic Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, responded to news of the arrest on Twitter.
Ocasio-Cortez wrote: “Understand when Jeanine Pirro goes on Fox + rallies people to think hijabs are threatening, it leads to this. Folks who imply we’re “bad” for politics, the party, the country, etc. have no idea the threats we deal w/ because of that kind of language. Talk policy, not personal.”
In mid-March, Fox News "strongly condemned" Pirro for a segment the cable news channel insisted does not reflect its views.
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Pirro asked on her show if Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s hijab means she follows Sharia law, “which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution.
“Omar wears a hijab, which according to the Koran 33:59 tells women to cover so they won’t get molested,” Pirro said, during the opening monologue on her show “Justice with Judge Jeanine.”
"Hates radical Muslims'"
The threat from Carlineo was referred to the U.S. Capitol Police, which launched a probe in coordination with the FBI, the Justice Department said.
Carlineo sounded angry during the phone call but also spelled his name for the staff member and provided contact details, according to an affidavit by an FBI special agent.
Interviewed at his home by investigators, Carlineo "stated that he was a patriot, that he loves the President, and that he hates radical Muslims in our government," the affidavit said.
Carlineo made an initial court appearance on Friday and is being held pending a detention hearing on April 10.
Representatives of Omar, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who was elected in November as one of the two first Muslim women to win seats in Congress, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
In February, Omar apologized "unequivocally" after Republicans and Democrats condemned comments she made about the pro-Israel lobby in the United States as using anti-Semitic stereotypes. President Donald Trump said her apology was inadequate and she should be "ashamed of herself."