Veterans of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu are hitting back at 2017 criticisms that surfaced earlier this week from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) that appeared to attack their role in the conflict.
As reported by Conservative Review's Jordan Schachtel, a 2017 tweet from Somali-American Omar said, "he forgets to also mention the thousands of Somalis killed by the American forces that day!" in response to a post commemorating the loss of 19 U.S. service members during the two-day operation. She added the hashtag "#NotTodaySatan."
"In helping her tribe, we had to eliminate those who were bad," former U.S. Delta Force operator Kyle Lamb told the Washington Examiner in response to Omar's criticisms. "She should be thankful we were there to help her people."
United States forces were in Somalia as part of United Nations peacekeeping efforts in 1993 when they were attacked by Somali militiamen. The original mission was to ensure that food aid sent to the struggling country would not be hijacked before it reached the people it was supposed to feed.
Eighteen U.S. personnel died in the main battle, and one was later killed by a mortar round. Two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in the firefight, leading to the title of the 1999 book and 2001 major motion picture that immortalized the efforts of elite fighters in Task Force Ranger during the battle.
"I really am offended, truly offended, by her comment and her thought that thousands were killed by us," retired Army Ranger Col. Danny McKnight told the outlet. "Not true. Not true at all."
A 1997 story at the Philadelphia Inquirer estimates that around 500 Somalis died throughout the course of the battle.
McKnight also explained to the Examiner that the Battle of Mogadishu wasn't just a single fight, contrary to what was implied in Omar's tweet. In reality, there were multiple confrontations between U.S. and Somali forces.
"We had six fights before we ever got to number seven, which is the one known as 'Black Hawk Down,'" he said. "I think [Omar's] idea was that there was really one that just took place."
Omar's comments were unearthed by the Investigative Project on Terrorism. The full story can be found here.
"As a nation, we and our political leadership should be proud of what we did there," pilot Mike Durant, who was beaten and captured after his Black Hawk was downed in the fighting, told IPT. "We put our most precious resource on the line to help starving people. In return, my friends' remains and those of my comrades were dragged through the streets.
"I do not hold all Somalis accountable for the actions of a few," Durant added, "but I certainly take issue with the remarks of Congresswoman Omar."