- James Bone and Catherine Philp
- From: The Times
- August 29 2011
President Barack Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, at a closed immigration hearing last year. Onyango, half-sister of Obama’s late father, moved to the United States in 2000 and she was ordered deported in 2004. Source: AP
BARACK Obama’s long-lost “Uncle Omar” has been arrested for alleged drink-driving outside Boston and detained as an illegal immigrant, The Times can reveal.
The arrest ends a mystery over the fate of a relative that the US President wrote in his memoir had moved to America from Kenya in the 1960s, although the circumstances of his discovery may now prove to be an embarrassment for the White House.
Official records say Onyango Obama, 67, was picked up outside the Chicken Bone Saloon in Framingham, Massachusetts, at 7.10pm on August 24. Police say he nearly crashed his Mitsubishi 4×4 into a patrol car, and then insisted that the officer should have given way to him. A report filed with the Framingham District Court said that a breathalyser at the police station registered his blood alcohol at 0.14mg/100ml of blood, above the state limit of 0.08mg.
The Times has established from his birthdate that Mr Obama is the Uncle Omar mentioned in President Obama’s best-selling memoir Dreams from My Father. In the 1995 book, President Obama writes of “the uncle who had left for America 25 years ago and had never come back”.
In 2008, The Times mounted a search for Uncle Omar. Instead of finding him, we discovered his sister, President Obama’s Auntie Zeituni, who was living as an illegal immigrant on a Boston housing estate. Uncle Omar and Auntie Zeituni are the children of President Obama’s grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama, by his third wife Sarah, the woman President Obama calls “Granny”, because she raised his father, Barack Sr, who was Hussein Obama’s son by Hussein’s second wife, Akumu.
The 2008 investigation unearthed public records naming an O. Onyango Obama, born on June 3, 1944, living at a house in the Boston suburbs, where he was known as Obama Onyango. Framingham police records list the man arrested last week as Onyango Obama, with the same birth date, June 3, 1944.
According to local reports, Officer Val Krishtal and another driver had to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting Mr Obama’s car, which rolled through a stop sign and took a quick left turn. Mr Obama allegedly told the officer he had right of way and said he doubted the officer was forced to brake hard as he did not hear his brakes squeal.
Mr Obama pleaded not guilty at his remand hearing, but was held in custody because of the immigration warrant. He now faces a legal battle. His sister Zeituni eventually won the right to live in America despite an earlier deportation order. Margaret Wong, the Cleveland lawyer who successfully represented Zeituni, confirmed through a representative last night that she has also been retained to defend Mr Obama.
“Before he went to America, we all knew him as Omar. But he dropped that bit, changing it to Obama Onyango, because he said he preferred his African name,” said Nelson Ochieng, a cousin in the Kenyan city of Kisumu.
Mr Obama’s landlady in Boston went to court to evict him in 2000 for non-payment of his dollars 500-a-month rent. He was also a partner in a convenience store that was set up in 1992, and was attacked in a robbery at the shop in 1994 by two men armed with a sawn-off rifle.