Democratic challenger vying for embattled California GOP congressman Duncan Hunter's seat shrugs off a Fox News headline that labelled him 'grandson of terrorist'

Fox NewsDemocratic congressional candidate for California’s 50th Congressional District, Ammar Campa-Najjar.
  • Democratic congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar is running against Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is a subject of a federal indictment that alleges he and his wife misused $US250,000 of campaign funds for personal expenses.
  • A Fox News headline on Friday earned some criticism when it incorrectly linked the Democratic candidate Campa-Najjar to the deeds of his dead grandfather, whom he never met.
  • Campa-Najjar’s grandfather, who led an arm of a terrorist organisation, was killed by Israeli forces in 1973, sixteen years before the California candidate was born.
  • Campa-Najjar called the Fox News headline unfortunate, but encouraged readers to read through the entire article, which he described as “pretty balanced.”

A Fox News headline earned some criticism on Friday when it incorrectly linked a Democratic congressional candidate to the deeds of his dead grandfather, whom he never met.

Twenty-nine-year-old Ammar Campa-Najjar is challenging Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter in California’s 50th Congressional District, where Hunter is now embroiled in a federal indictment that alleges he and his wife misused $US250,000 of campaign funds for personal use.

On Friday, Fox News published a feature story on Campa-Najjar’s family history, which included a mention of his grandfather, Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar, who led an arm of the Black September terrorist organisation.

The cable news outlet changed its headline several times.

Fox News’ first headline read: “Grandson of terrorist rises in race against indicted GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter.”

That headline was widely criticised on social media and readers accused Fox News of trying to link the 29-year-old Democratic candidate to the actions of the grandfather he never met.

Fox News later changed the headline to: “Grandson of Munich terrorist rises in race against indicted Rep. Hunter, disavows dark family past.”

By Friday night, the headline apparently changed again: “Dem running against indicted Rep. Hunter rises in race, disavows Munich terrorist grandfather.”

Black September is responsible for the killings of 11 athletes and coaches during the Munich Olympics in 1972. Yusuf was was killed by Israeli forces in 1973.

Reactions to the Fox News headline were swift

“We do not support the candidacy of @ACampaNajjar but one does not have to support him to know that this @FoxNews headline is DISGUSTING,” The Reagan Battalion, a conservative organisation, wrote on Twitter.

“@ACampaNajjar is not responsible for what his grandfather did SEVENTEEN years before he was born, he is an American just like every other!”

Campa-Najjar, a Palestinian-Mexican American who worked for the Labour Department under the Obama administration, called the headline unfortunate and a “quick take,” but encouraged readers to look beyond the mention of his grandfather.

“The content is pretty balanced,” Campa-Najjar told Business Insider in a phone call on Friday afternoon, adding: “I’m moving past it.”

Although Fox News writes that Campa-Najjar has come under “scrutiny of his dark family past,” it does include his campaign’s statement that says in part: “while he’s proud of his heritage, he is ‘American first.'”

“Every man is responsible for their own actions and their own crimes,” Campa-Najjar said to Business Insider.

As the US Justice Department pursues charges against Hunter and his wife, Campa-Najjar’s campaign said it is energised to potentially upset the traditionally Republican seat in San Diego County. During interviews on cable news, Campa-Najjar highlighted Hunter’s service in the US Marine Corps, but didn’t shy from his corruption charges.

“I think this does change the race,” Campa-Najjar told Fox News host Neil Cavuto during an interview. “I just want to say that Congressman Duncan Hunter honorably served our country abroad. He fought the battles that we wage abroad for someone like me could have the luxury to fight the ones we have here at home.”

“I think Washington chewed him up and spat him out,” Campa-Najjar added. “And he lost his way.”

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