A controversial northern Virginia Democrat with a history of anti-Semitic statements sought to disrupt President Trump's speech in honor of the 400th anniversary of the historic Jamestown colony Tuesday. Ibraheem Samirah, delegate for the 86th district of Virginia, which represents parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties, yelled "You can't send us back, Virginia is our home" and held up a sign reading "Reunite my family."
Samirah's father, Sabri Samriah, is a Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood leader who was banned from the United States for national security reasons under President George W. Bush but eventually won a lawsuit to be allowed to return under President Obama in 2010.
The elder Samirah, who resided in the United States illegally as a visa overstay, served as chairman of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP). During the Holy Land Foundation trial, the federal government successfully argued in court that IAP existed to support the terrorist group Hamas with "propaganda and information."
The Texas-based Islamic charity and its leaders were convicted of financing the terrorist group Hamas. In a 2017 Facebook post, Ibraheem Samirah posted a petition he had signed calling for the HLF defendants to be pardoned and described their fundraising as "not a crime."
The younger Samirah, who described himself as "inspired" by his father on a social media and has called his father his "role model" for Palestinian activism, came under fire during his campaign for delegate after a series of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel posts from his Facebook page were published by the conservative blog Big League Politics.
Samirah hasn't shied from his father's politics, either. On the 2018 campaign trail for the delegate seat, Samirah addressed the national convention of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), one of the leading organizations for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel in the United States.
AMP faces a lawsuit from the father and mother of David Boim, a teenager murdered by Hamas in 1996. The Boims argue that AMP is the successor organization to the IAP, and responsible for paying the $156 million civil judgement the Boims were awarded but have not been paid. Two AMP officials who donated to Samirah's 2018 Virginia delegate campaign were identified in an Israeli government report on the BDS movement for their ties to Hamas.
Samirah has a history of disrupting events. During his time in college, Samirah served as a BDS activist, and he and fellow activists were thrown out of a presidential campaign event for Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2015. The Sanders campaign later apologized for ejecting them from the event. In 2016, Samirah and his fellow BDS activists were ejected from an event at the Boston University Hillel, an organization for Jewish campus life.
Asked about the stunt during a press conference, Trump complained the media "gave the protestor 100% of the time," distracting from his remarks at the Jamestown event. It is not clear whether the president knew who Samirah was, or that he is a Virginia delegate.
Samirah may hope his confrontation with Trump will rise to the level of the president's ongoing publicity battles with members of the so-called "Squad," freshmen Democratic congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib.
Samirah has close ties to Tlaib and claims he "took charge" of the Michigan congresswoman's get out the vote efforts. Like Tlaib and Omar, Samirah comes from a wing within the Democratic Party that has increasingly endorsed once fringe positions such as support for BDS.
Political strategists have suggested that Trump's high-profile verbal sparring with the freshmen Democrats may be part of a deliberate effort to highlight growing radicalism in the Democratic Party which may be unattractive to voters.
Samirah may end up filling a similar role in Virginia politics even if President Trump doesn't take the bait. GOP Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Kirk Cox called out Samirah's demonstration against the president as "inconsistent with common decency." The Virginia Republican Party Twitter account displayed an older Facebook post from Samirah, which linked an article accusing Israeli teenagers of using the dating app Tinder to "legitimize murder," adding "@IbraheemSamirah everyone."
The Virginia Republican party has previously called out Samirah for being "connected to multiple anti-Semitic and anti-Israel groups" and "the son of a Hamas fundraiser."