I’ve been asked by a number of people if the images seen in the video of the October 11 Minnesota riots that took place during President Trump’s rally show Ilhan Omar, Tim Mynett, and Isra Hirsi. Running the video footage through face recognition (FR) came back inconclusive with the following match rates:
Face recognition for Ilhan Omar = 52%
Face recognition for Tim Mynett = 71%
Face recognition for Isra Hirsi (Ilhan Omar’s daughter) = 56%
The reason for these low scores is that the Persons Of Interest (POI) that resemble the three individuals have key facial features such as the nose, mouth, lips, chin, either obscured or distorted. That said, several other video analytics did find multiple partial matches on general personal characteristics such as ethnicity, body size, face build, hand size, and scarf wrapping style. Tim Mynett’s glasses for example, matched at 94%.
Face Cover and Proximity
Evaluating the appearance of the various POIs in the footage shows that they didn’t cover their faces at all times. In several instances, POI-1, who resembles Ilhan Omar took the scarf of her face. POI-4, an accomplice of POI-1 (of the same ethnicity), didn’t cover her face at all and was wearing her head scarf in a casual non-traditional Somali wrap. POI-2, who partially matched Tim Myentt also periodically removed his face cover. This suggests that at least some of the participants didn’t have extreme privacy concerns or believed that alternately appearing without a face cover wouldn’t be detrimental. From the spatial awareness point of view, POI-1-4 repeatedly moved in and out of the Field Of View (FOV) and operated at a very close proximity to the photographer. In at least 2 occasions reaching as close as 18-36 inches from the camera.
Following the FR, I also performed motion analysis of the four POIs identified. Motion pattern analysis examines the movements of individual objects in a field of view and classifies them according to their trajectory, velocity, and movement pattern. In a typical public gatherings such as demonstrations, airport/subway passenger traffic, sport events, street traffic, etc. individuals and crowds tend to exhibit certain patterns of motion like loitering, flowing at the speed of traffic, coordination, queuing, pacing, etc. The results of this analysis flagged the following anomalies:
- POI-1 who resembles Ilhan Omar didn’t move organically within the FOV as did the other demonstrators. She loitered around the camera with another female accomplice (POI-4 of the same ethnicity) and seemed to be more interested in being observed by the camera and less in joining the demonstration at the police bicycle barricades a few feet away from them, where the action was taking place.
- At one point in the footage, POI-1 that resembles Ilhan Omar turned to walk away towards the camera, she noticed the camera, and quickly turned around and used both hands to adjust the scarf on her face. She then did a 180 degree pirouette and walked right back in the same direction towards the camera. Typically, this would not be the pattern of motion for a person who is trying to avoid being seen. Rather, one would expect her to turn her back to the camera and walk to either side or straight ahead into the crowd to avoid being identified (see Video 1).
- POI-1 who resembles Ilhan Omar exhibited coordinated motion with POI-2 (they frequently shared the FOV). Both moved fluidly, slowly, and deliberately as if to provide image capture opportunities.
- POI-2 who matched Tim Mynett also interacted with the camera on multiple occasions in the same way as POI-1 did. On at least one occasion, he walked right across the FOV with a clear profile shot and at one point deliberately pulled down his scarf exposing his face and faced the camera. He was aware of his action because he made direct eye contact with the center off the lens (Video 1).
Linkage and Geospatial Analysis
Running a linkage analysis on several entities involved in this video shows a direct relationships between the actors and Ilhan Omar. For example, Andy Mannix, who recorded the video of the riot is a MinPost reporter that knows Ilhan Omar and Tim Mynett.
Mannix, also knows Cory Zurowski from his days in the Minnesota City Pages newspaper. In 2016, Zurowski published a fictitious biographical piece about Ilhan Omar (he didn’t verify any of Ilhan’s bio claims) and in that article had a little Freudian slip and fall and identified Ilhan Omar’s real family name as Elmi, but then promptly changed it back to Omar. Andy Mannix also happens to be married to Briana Bierschbach, a former AP reporter who currently works for Minnesota Public Radio as a political correspondent. Bierschbach interviewed Ilhan Omar on multiple occasions and wrote several supportive articles about her. The Bierschbach Omar stories are political puff pieces that are light on investigative facts and heavy on personal aggrandization and read like a press release written by Tim Mynett (who is Ilhan Omar’s PR manager/latest romantic interest). The common theme in all of these writings is to highlight Omar’s heroic qualities and whitewash the dubious details about her and her family’s history.
From the geospatial point of view, having Mannix, Mynett, Hirsi, and a crypto Omar within a radius of 10 feet of each other, without either one of them being aware of the others is suspicious to say the least. This act reminds me of the plot line in the P. G. Wodehouse’s novel “Jeeves Takes Charge”. In it, Jeeves’s makes the following observation to Bertie Wooster:
“Any undertaking that requires the presence of four people all in one place, all at the same time, while two of them are unaware of the fact, is fraught with the possibility of mishap sir.”
Prophetic Visions of Fake News
Mannix’s social media activity prior to the rally may also be relevant to this discussion. On October 10 at 11:40 AM, almost a day before the riots started, using what seems to be a prophetic vision, he twitted the following prediction for the upcoming event:
“There will also inevitably be a lot of fake [news] or unsubstantiated claims…”
Suspiciously, the only viral fake news story that came out of this event is associated with the footage that he recorded.
It certainly seems that the whereabouts of Ilhan Omar, her daughter Isra Hirsi, and Tim Mynett during the riots fit into the debate about ‘unsubstantiated news claims’. What is not clear though, is what role did Mannix and his progressive reporter network played in engineering this event.
My take on this is that based on the positive match for Tim Maynett and Isra Hirsi and the multiple partial matches for Ilhan Omar there is a strong possibility that this was a publicity stunt with a look-alike done for the purpose of crowd sourcing a false identification. One possible reason for doing this might be to use this incident to discredit the ‘conspiracy theorists’ by showing that Omar was at a different location at the time this video was shoot. This would then allow her PR team to leverage the false match and use it to repudiate other successful searches that positively confirmed her second husband as her brother.
This also suggests that someone on the Omar team seems to be concerned about the previous usage of video analytics to identify her dubious family linkage and is trying to develop some counter narrative to address it.
References and Sources
Ilhan Omar Talks About Her Life – Interview with Briana Bierschbach
‘Your story will be written’: Ilhan Omar’s stormy rise – Briana Bierschbach
lhan Omar’s had a week: Here’s what it means – Briana Bierschbach
Ilhan Omar, marriage, and Somali culture – Ibrahim Hirsi (Bierschbach’s collaborator)
Ilhan Omar’s improbable journey from refugee camp to Minnesota Legislature – Cory Zurowski
XRVision Sentinel AI Platform – Face recognition, image reconstruction, and object detection
Copyright Yaacov Apelbaum 2019