Nicholas Haros Jr's mother Frances Haros was one of thousands of victims of the devastating September 11 terrorist attacks that brought the US to its knees.

But four words uttered by controversial Minnesota Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar has caused his family fresh anguish.

Speaking earlier this year about discrimination experienced by the Muslim community, Ms Omar, who is also Muslim, said the Council of American-Islamic Relations "was founded after 9/11 because they recognised that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."

That phrase -- "some people did something" -- has been seized upon by critics who argued it belittled the tragedy and its victims.

Nicholas Haros Jr, whose mother died at the age of 76 during the 2001 attacks, is one of those critics.

And he unleashed his fury during a 9/11 memorial in New York marking the 18th anniversary of the unprecedented attack that left almost 3000 people dead.

Wearing a black T-shirt bearing the words "Some people did something?", Mr Haros read the names of the victims, including his mother.

"'Some people did something,' said a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota," Mr Haros said, according to the New York Post.

"Today I am here to respond to you exactly who did what to whom.

"Madam, objectively speaking, we know who and what was done. There is no uncertainty about that. Why your confusion?

"On that day, 19 Islamic terrorist members of al Qaeda killed over 3000 people and caused billions of dollars of economic damage. Is that clear?"

Mr Haros said "American patriotism and your position demand" Ms Omar and her colleagues show respect to the dead.

"But as to whom, I was attacked, your relatives and friends were attacked, our constitutional freedoms were attacked and our nation's founding on Judaeo-Christian principles were attacked," he continued.

"That's what some people did. Got that now?

"We are here today, Congresswoman, to tell you and the Squad just who did what to whom. Show respect in honouring them, please."

"The Squad" is a nickname given to four congresswomen elected in the 2018 US House of Representatives elections, including Ms Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

Mr Haros has long been an outspoken 9/11 campaigner, and previously criticised politicians for using September 11 victims as "props".

US President Donald Trump also attacked Ms Omar over her comments, posting a clip of her speech along with 9/11 footage on Twitter in April.

However, Ms Omar stressed she meant no disrespect by her words in a statement sent to USA Today following Mr Haros' comments.

"In my speech, I was talking about how our civil liberties as Muslims were being eroded after the horrific attacks of 9/11. ... I think there is a particular bias and a certain lens that people critique the words I use. And that is not a bias or a lens that I can get rid of with one answer, with one conversation," she wrote.

"To some people, it's easy for them to not think of me as an American, as someone who would not have the same feelings as they did as we were being attacked on American soil. "And that is really the essence of the conversation I was having. We felt the attack -- we were attacked."

She also condemned the September 11 attacks on Twitter this week.

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