WASHINGTON ― Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said she made an “honest mistake” on MSNBC last week when she invoked the “Bowling Green massacre” ― a purported terrorist attack that never happened ― in defense of the president’s immigration ban.
But the Feb. 3 “Hardball” interview wasn’t the first time Conway had mentioned the nonexistent attack. She had referred to the “Bowling Green massacre” in more detail several days earlier in an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, in which she wrongly claimed that President Barack Obama had called for a “ban on Iraqi refugees” after the incident.
“He did, it’s a fact,” Conway said of Obama. “Why did he do that? He did that for exactly the same reasons. He did that because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills and come back here and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers’ lives away.”
Days later, Conway told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that most Americans hadn’t heard of the invented massacre because “it didn’t get covered.”
And on Jan. 29, Conway mentioned Bowling Green in an interview with TMZ.
Conway’s appears to be basing her story on an actual incident in which two Iraqi men entered the U.S. as refugees in 2009, settled in Kentucky, and were arrested in 2011 for attempting to send weapons and money to the terrorist group al Qaeda for the purpose of killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
The men reportedly didn’t kill or plot to kill anyone in Kentucky, nor did they return to the Middle East to “get trained and refine their terrorism skills,” as Conway asserted.
Conway was widely mocked last week when she mentioned the “Bowling Green massacre” on MSNBC, and people held fake vigils across the country for the nonexistent victims of the attack. She later walked back her remarks on Twitter, saying she “misspoke” and that “honest mistakes abound.” She wrote that she “meant to say ‘Bowling Green terrorists,’” citing an ABC News report from 2013 about the incident.
When Cosmopolitan reached out to Conway about having previously referred to the fake “massacre” in a separate interview, she said, “It was a plot to massacre and they were Bowling Green terrorists. That’s what I should have said.”
“At least this got clear-thinking people to focus on what did happen in Bowling Green,” she continued. “I gave new life to that ABC News investigative report and the fact that these two Iraqi nationals came to the U.S. with a plan of death and destruction.”
This post has been updated to note that Conway also mentioned Bowling Green in a TMZ interview.