A member of the same Virginia school board who came under fire for withholding information about student scholarships has raised eyebrows by saying that the Battle of Iwo Jima, a major American victory over Japan in World War II, was “bad” and should not have happened.
The comments were made Thursday by Fairfax County board member Abrar Omeish, 28, in reference to Remembrance Day, a day celebrating the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The holiday falls on the same calendar day as the first American landings on Iwo Jima Island on February 19, 1945.
The battle for the island of Iwo Jima, which lasted more than a month from February 19 to March 26, 1945, is one of the most famous in the history of the Marine Corps. Nearly 7,000 U.S. Marines from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Marine Division were killed trying to wrest control of the island from Japan’s Imperial Japanese Army.
The comments have already sparked outrage and serve as far from the first time the 28-year-old board member has come under scrutiny. The Muslim official, who was elected to office in 2019 aged just 24, also has a history of anti-Israel rhetoric and has candidly said the district’s admissions policy has an anti-Asian streak.
Her father also serves on the board of directors of a Fairfax mosque where three of the 9/11 hijackers had prayed before carrying out the horrific attacks.
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The remarks were made Thursday by 28-year-old board member Abrar Omeish in reference to Remembrance Day, a day celebrating the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
The battle for the island of Iwo Jima, which lasted more than a month from February 19 to March 26, 1945, is one of the most famous in the history of the Marine Corps. Nearly 7,000 U.S. Marines died in the bloody, weeks-long battle, which has been memorialized in several films and movies, as well as this iconic piece of photography
“Only a few days ago was Japan’s Day of Remembrance,” Omeish said during a conversation with other board members on Thursday.
“Something for us to definitely think about… the days when, you know, Iwo Jima sadly happened and set a record for what, I hate to say, human evil is capable of.”
The comments sparked backlash almost immediately — largely due to the fact that the district was already on many radars due to a range of other controversies, including the decision to defer students who received National Merit Awards.
After withholding the awards as part of a progressive campaign designed not to hurt the feelings of students who haven’t earned a scholarship — in some cases for up to two years — the district is now facing anger from parents and the issue is of an investigation by the state’s attorney general.
Omeish is also the daughter of 55-year-old Esam Omeish, chief of general surgery at Inova Alexandria Hospital and former president of the Muslim American Society (MAS). Essam also serves on the board of directors of Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, also in Fairfax.
The mosque previously employed a man suspected of collaborating with al-Qaueda. That man, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in 2011 by a US government drone strike at the behest of President Barack Obama.
When asked to elaborate on her comments amid the backlash, Omeish — the youngest Muslim woman to serve as Virginia’s elected official — seemed to balk at her characterization of the battle as an example of human evil.
Notably, three would-be hijackers of the September 11 attacks separately attended al-Awlaki’s sermons in Fairfax in the 1990s and early 2001 before carrying out the terror attacks.
Despite hiring al-Awlaki himself, Omeish’s father was appointed by state senator Tim Kaine in 2016 to serve on the Virginia Commission on Immigration, but resigned after video from a 2020 meeting showed him calling in support of the ‘jihad way’ as a solution to the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The daughter of Esam, the youngest Muslim woman in Virginia to hold elected office, gave an equally crude characterization of one of World War II’s most famous engagements on Thursday.
Footage of the board member’s statements has since circulated on social media, with a clip shared by an outraged parent receiving more than 60,000 views.
When asked to explain her remarks amid the resistance of the Washington Free Beacon, Omeish seemed to revert to that line of reasoning in which she denounced the Battle of Iwo Jima – often shortened to simply Iwo Jima – as an example of humane pissed off.
Omeish is also the daughter of 55-year-old Esam Omeish, the prominent Chief of General Surgery at Inova Alexandria Hospital. Essam also serves on the board of directors of a Fairfax mosque that welcomed three of the 19 9/11 hijackers
The Omeish Mosque previously employed Anwar al-Awlaki, a man suspected of collaborating with al-Qaueda. al-Awlaki was killed by a US government drone strike, ordered by President Barack Obama, in Yemen in 2011
“There is no reason to distort what has been said and reading more into it only reflects biases imposed on the listener,” Omeish said in a statement emailed over the weekend.
She added that she made the comment because the battle “fell on the same day” as then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1942 executive order to imprison Japanese Americans, noting that the order remained in effect “even after Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945, three years later.”
However, Omeish did not give any explanation as to why she characterized Iwo Jima as ‘bad’, dismissing the fight by saying it ‘unfortunately happened’.
The bloody, weeks-long battle saw about 7,000 Americans killed and more than 20,000 wounded, and has been memorialized in films and movies such as Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima.
Although costly, the victory proved crucial in capturing a strategic operating base for escort bombers attacking mainland Japan during the end of the war.
It also spawned one of the most iconic photographs of the entire conflict, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, which shows six U.S. Marines raising the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi during the fighting – during the final stages of the war in the Pacific.
No notable American Veterans Association has issued statements about Omeish’s comments — which are not the first to spark controversy.
Late last year, as the school district faced a federal class action lawsuit for violating the rights of disabled students, private text messages revealed that Omeish also admitted anti-Asian bias in the admissions process for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology of the district (photo)
In May 2021, a series of anti-Israel social media posts from the school board member came to light, in which she labeled Israel an “apartheid state” that “kills Palestinians.”
Then, late last year, when the school district faced a federal class action lawsuit for violating the rights of disabled students, private text messages revealed that Omeish also acknowledged anti-Asian bias in the admissions process for
“I mean there was an anti-Asian feel to it, I hate to say it lol,” Omeish texted a fellow board member in Fall 2020. “They’re also being discriminated against in this process.”
DailyMail.com has reached out to the Fairfax County School District for comment.