Top Trump adviser in new 'alternative facts' flap

This Jan 27, 2017 file photo shows Kellyanne Conway, senior aide to US president Donald Trump speaking at the March for Life rally in Washington, DC.
This Jan 27, 2017 file photo shows Kellyanne Conway, senior aide to US president Donald Trump speaking at the March for Life rally in Washington, DC.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A top adviser to President Donald Trump found herself embroiled in a new "alternative facts" controversy Friday (Feb 3) over her claim that two radicalised Iraqis had masterminded a US massacre that never took place.

Kellyanne Conway, a White House counsellor who managed Trump's presidential campaign, made the remark Thursday (Feb 2) in an interview with MSNBC while defending Trump's ban on refugees as similar to steps taken by former president Barack Obama.

"I bet it's brand new information to people that president Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee programme after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalised and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. It didn't get covered."

There was no massacre at Bowling Green.

Conway later tweeted that she "meant to say 'Bowling Green' terrorists."

Two Iraqi men from Bowling Green, Kentucky were indeed indicted in 2011 - but for trying to send money and weapons to Al-Qaeda, and using improvised explosive devices against US soldiers in Iraq. Both are now serving long prison sentences.

After that incident, Obama did order more extensive background checks on Iraqi refugees, but never stopped or banned the refugee resettlement programme, The Washington Post reported.

Conway introduced the term "alternative facts" to the US political lexicon last month while defending White House press secretary Sean Spicer's specious claim that Trump's inauguration drew "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration - period - both in person and around the globe."

When Spicer's claim was called out in an interview on MSNBC's Meet the Press, Conway retorted: "You're saying it's a falsehood... Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that."