Social media firestorm over Conway's "Bowling Green massacre" comments

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- On Thursday, in an interview on MSNBC with Chris Matthews, senior adviser to President Donald Trump's administration, Kellyanne Conway was asked a series of questions regarding Trump's latest executive actions.

Image License Cropped Photo: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0 License Link

On the topic of the president's travel ban targeting seven "primarily-Muslim countries", Kellyanne defended the action saying that it was in place for a reason.

Conway said that the seven countries targeted in the move were already listed by former President Barack Obama's administration.

She says this probably came as new information to many people:

"I bet it's brand new information to people that President Obama had a six month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre," said Conway.

Back in 2011, two Iraqi citizens having ties to overseas attacks on U.S. troops were arrested here in Bowling Green.

Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi were both indicted by a federal grand jury on federal terrorism charges. Both were believed to be living as refugees here in the U.S.

Alwan pleaded guilty to 23 counts of federal terrorism charges:

Conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals abroad, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals abroad, distributing information on the manufacture and use of IEDs, attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaeda in Iraq, as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles.

Hammadi plead guilty to 12 counts of federal terrorism charges for attempting to provide material support to terrorists, attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda in Iraq, conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles, and two counts of making false statements in immigration matters.

Both face a minimum sentence to 25 years in prison - a maximum of life in prison.

The two Iraqis acting as refugees were indeed found to be dangerous terrorists, causing the Obama administration to react, but never issuing a full ban on Iraqi immigration like Conway suggested.

Reports from the New York Times say that Obama reacted to the arrests of the two Iraqis by "[requiring] new background checks for visa applicants," resulting in a slowdown of the issuance of travel visas to Iraqi applicants.

And as most people from Bowling Green know, there was never a "massacre" around that time.

"Neither person is charged with plotting any attacks on American soil," said David Hale, attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. "These charges relate to activities that occur when they were in Iraq, first of all. Secondly, they relate to conspiracy to aid Al Qaeda in Iraq."

In short: Conway suggested that Obama banned Iraqis from coming in due to two Iraqis being the masterminds behind a massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but no one knows because there was no coverage.

People are learning this morning that the coverage didn't exist because the "massacre" never happened.

Kellyanne Conway tweeted Friday morning that she meant to say "Bowling Green terrorists".

Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson acknowledged the situation and thanked Conway for clarifying.

"I understand during a live interview how one can misspeak and we appreciate the clarification," said Wilkerson.

Sen. Rand Paul also weighed in on the situation.

“Regardless of her words, our visa and refugee systems are severely broken, and the situation regarding the Bowling Green terrorists demonstrates that point. The fact that two terrorists who entered our country as refugees from a country on the Obama-created heightened scrutiny list were charged and convicted of terrorism charges in Bowling Green is a prime example of why the previous system did not make us any safer," Paul said.

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