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FACT CHECK

What is this 'Bowling Green massacre' Trump's aide Kellyanne Conway is talking about?

A top aide to Donald Trump has cited a 2011 'massacre' in Kentucky that never happened as a reason why his temporary immigration ban is necessary. Here's some background on the 'Bowling Green' blunder

Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, right, talks to presidential counsellor Steven Bannon before a meeting on cybersecurity at the White House on Jan. 31, 2017.

What she said

During an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews that aired Thursday, Kellyanne Conway defended U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration last week by saying that former president Barack Obama instituted a similar policy for Iraqi refugees in 2011.

President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.

Watch Conway’s exchange on MNSBC


What she's talking about

Ms. Conway is referring to a tightening of security checks for entry into the U.S. after the May, 2011, arrest of two men on charges of plotting to send weapons and money to al-Qaeda operatives waging an insurgency in their native Iraq. Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, were mistakenly admitted to the U.S. as Iraqi refugees in 2009 and resettled in Bowling Green, Ky.

Calling the Obama administration's actions a "ban" on Iraqi refugees is misleading. A formal ban wasn't announced by that administration, though there was a dramatic decline in the number of Iraqis allowed to move the U.S. in 2011. Officials at the time cited an enhanced security clearance process for delaying Iraqi visa applications.

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Mr. Alwan and Mr. Hammadi are in prison after pleading guilty. They were never accused of plotting to launch attacks inside the United States.


What she says she meant to say

Ms. Conway tweeted Friday morning that she meant to say "Bowling Green terrorists" during the interview. She hasn't, however, corrected her characterization of Mr. Obama's 2011 policy.


How Americans reacted

Ms. Conway's comments have made fodder for jokes among social media users. "Bowling Green massacre" quickly became a top trending topic on Twitter with a flurry of tweets mourning the nonexistent victims.


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