Things You Didn't Know About Huma Abedin

Hillary Clinton's presidential election campaign suffered its own October surprise when the FBI reopened investigations into her email history after finding more evidence on the laptop of her top aide Huma Abedin's scandal-entrenched husband, Anthony Weiner. Abedin, a close affiliate of Clinton's going all the way back to her days as the United States' First Lady during Bill Clinton's administration, has since arrived as a crucial name in this election cycle. Here's what you may not know about her.

She's got deep roots in the Middle East

Although Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the political staffer lived with her family in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from the time she was two years old until she began college at George Washington University. Her parents were both born in British India (before the British Partition divided the land into what is now India and Pakistan) and educated at the University of Pennsylvania. Her father founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs and became the first editor of the foundation's Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. After his passing, her mother took on his responsibilities to both organizations, and Abedin and her siblings, Hassan and Heba, are all said to have contributed the Journal in varying capacities during their careers.

Abedin, however, always had an eye on returning to the west. She attended girls' school in Great Britain as a teenager and idolized the career of international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, aspiring to become a fellow journalist and work for the White House's press office one day.

She started working for Clinton when she was just 19

Abedin's career as a Clinton aide began very early on in her professional life, as she first started working for the then-First Lady when she was only 19 years old. At the time, in 1996, Abedin was assigned to intern with Clinton's First Lady office, but she soon escalated her stature in Clinton's support group, rising from a so-called "body woman" in the early days to eventual vice-chair of Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Her professional relationship with Clinton has, over time, morphed into a personal one as well, and Abedin is now referred to as "a mini Hillary" and a "second daughter" to her long-time boss.

Her backup career is completely different

Abedin told Vogue that if she weren't in politics, her secondary career of choice would be within the fashion industry. Indeed, Abedin, who's now known for her flattering style choices, has been present for several powerhouse fashion occasions, including the 2016 Met Gala.Her interest in the industry didn't arise until she'd moved back to the States and started working in the White House. Maybe she got the fashion bug from her sister, Heba, who runs a fashion consultancy firm in New York.

She was accused of having familial ties to the Muslim Brotherhood

In 2012, Michele Bachmann (then a congresswoman and GOP presidential hopeful), along with other republican congresspersons, led a smear campaign against Abedin, claiming that she and her family had ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and calling for revocation of her security clearances as a result of it. That connection supposedly stemmed from several aspects of her family's past and present endeavors.

First, there's the fact that a Saudi government official named Abdullah Omar Naseef was reportedly involved in the relocation of the Abedin family to the country when she was a child—Naseef has been accused of having ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda (based on a charity that was established while the U.S. were funding rebel fighters in Afghanistan but was later frozen), but he has denied those claims. In addition to being involved in the Abedin family's move to Saudi Arabia, he has also served on the board of trustees to the Journal they run. Meanwhile, her mother reportedly founded an organization (called the International Islamic Committed for Woman and Child) which once worked with another organization that was banned from Israel due to ties with the Union of Good, a pro-Hamas network. Another claim is that the Journal the Abedin matriarch runs has reportedly produced some controversial pieces, such as placing blame on the United States for the attacks on 9/11 and promoting misogynistic and homophobic ideals.

However, experts have denied that it is extraordinary for such a publication to print various opinions on Muslim subjects, and Abedin's team, including a Clinton spokesperson, denied that she ever had a significant role in the publication's editing process and claimed she was instead a mere figurehead. Further, Bachmann and company's claims that Abedin had any connection to terrorist networks was rebuffed by high-ranking officials in the U.S., including Republican Senator John McCain, who called the attack "unfounded and unwarranted" and said that she is "an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government."

She ditched Anthony Weiner on their first date

Weiner first met his eventual wife (and soon-to-be ex-wife) Abedin while she was working on Clinton's Senatorial staff in New York in 2001. Weiner was a newly-elected representative of the state's 9th congressional district at the time, and he asked her out for a drink at a Democratic National Committee retreat. Per The New York Times, she originally declined by saying she had to work, but he requested Clinton's permission to give her a night off. Hilariously, she was said to have waved her hands behind him and indicated "no," but Clinton still obliged.

Their first date was a disaster. Abedin ordered tea in lieu of an alcoholic beverage and never returned from a bathroom break—or, according to her version of the story, she did eventually return but he'd already given up hope by then and left. Weiner said that her friends came up to him while she was way and warned him that she wasn't interested. It took six years for them to try for a second date. Their first real spark of romance ignited on the trail for Clinton's 2008 presidential nomination campaign against Barack Obama, and they were married in 2010. Bill Clinton officiated their ceremony.

She survived her husband's first scandal with Clinton's help

In 2011, Abedin was working as the deputy chief of staff for Clinton (then, Secretary of State) on an overseas trip with President Obama, and she was overcome with joy about what she and her husband had achieved together, even texting him with a note that said: "I cannot believe what an amazingly blessed life we live, these incredible experiences we've both had."

When she arrived back in the U.S., though, she was immediately hit with the devastating news of her husband's Twitter picture scandal. In short, Weiner accidentally posted a photo of his private parts on the social network—a shot which was meant to be transmitted to a 21-year-old college student he was in private communication with. At first, Weiner claimed that his account had been hacked, but once more online affairs came to light, he had to own up to the truth to her and the public, confessing to illicit communications with about six different women.

Abedin, who was expecting her son Jordan at the time, survived the embarrassment and emotional vicissitude that followed by returning to work right away. She told Vanity Fair, "my compass was my job ... it was where I could go and life was normal." Days later, she explained to New York Times, she joined Clinton on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, where her senior staffer had arranged for her parents to visit.

She added that she and Clinton have since had personal conversations about their similarly publicized marital woes, explaining that they agree that "at the end of the day, at the very least, every woman should have the ability and the confidence and the choice to make whatever decisions she wants to make sure that are right for her and not be judged by it." Abedin, like Clinton before her, chose to remain by her husband's side, despite the widely-publicized scandal that befell their family.

Clinton's pals also helped house them afterward

When Weiner resigned from his congressional position, Vanity Fair reports, he and Abedin began to cash in on their real estate investments—sometimes, even at a loss. They wound up moving into a spacious Park Avenue apartment built by a long-time Clinton supporter, which raised some eyebrows, and their financial earnings became a subject of particular intrigue and controversy.

As detailed by Bloomberg Politics, Abedin resigned from her post as deputy chief of staff in 2012 and was instead given a "special government employee" position which allowed her to work with the Clinton Foundation as well as other international organizations at the same time, while also operating out of her own home. That professional arrangement has since been viewed as potentially controversial for Abedin and Clinton and remains a talking point for some about the presidential race.

They made another run for it together

Abedin and Weiner showed off their child and home in People magazine in 2012 and presented the picture of a healthy family who had healed and moved on from the previous year's setbacks. She told the magazine, "It took a lot of work to get to where we are today, but I want people to know we're a normal family—Anthony has spent every day trying to be the best dad and husband he can be... I'm proud to be married to him." They made sure to even mention that the newly stay-at-home dad was on full-time laundry duty, too.

By 2013, Weiner was ready to make another run for public office—this time, as Mayor of New York City. Abedin fiercely supported his new campaign, even writing an op-ed in Harper's Bazaar to explain that she regarded her husband as a "smart, caring, and dedicated person" who had become "a better man" that deserved a second chance at serving the state's people.

But the trouble had already begun by then

In July 2013, Weiner admitted to participating in another digital age dalliance—this time, he admitted to sexting a woman online, with more inappropriate photos exchanged under a pseudonym called "Carlos Danger." Abedin stood by his side when he admitted to the second scandal, but some sources believed she had a foot out the door of their marriage by then, and as the 2016 documentary Weiner explored, when a woman he'd communicated with named Sydney Leathers (nicknamed "Pineapple") showed up to his campaign headquarters on the day of the mayoral election—which he lost, badly—Abedin refused to join him at the event, signaling that the image of their happy home was even farther tarnished by scandal number two.

The death knell to their marriage, though, happened in late August of 2016, when a third sexting scandal emerged—this time, with severe legal ramifications for Weiner involved. As detailed by The New York Post, Weiner was caught texting another woman a photograph of his nether region which was taken while his and Abedin's son Jordan, then four years old, was lying in bed next to him asleep. He and the woman—who was a supporter of Donald Trump, no less—had reportedly been in communication for over a year. The day after the story went live, Abedin announced her decision to separate from Weiner, saying in a statement: "After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband. Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life."

In September 2016, however, a fourth scandal emerged, this time involving a 15-year-old girl on the receiving end of his lewd texts. This ignited an FBI investigation into Weiner's laptop which has been discovered to have potential links to Clinton's email controversy and has become a hot-button issue in the final days of her presidential campaign. Abedin notably receded from view in the final weeks of Clinton's march toward the 2016 election as a result of the scrutiny.