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U.S. President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon (L) and senior aide Kellyanne Conway speak at meeting hosted by Trump with cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque


By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) - A Trump administration aide corrected herself on Friday after a wave of criticism for referencing a 2011 "massacre" in Kentucky that never occurred to defend President Donald Trump's temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

During an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Thursday, White House counsellor and spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway said Trump's recent executive order was justified in part because of the "Bowling Green massacre" of 2011, which never took place.

Conway corrected herself on Friday in a post on Twitter, saying: "Honest mistakes abound."

The phrase "Bowling Green massacre" was the top trending topic on Twitter on Friday morning as thousands of social media users mocked Conway's error.

On television late on Thursday, Conway spoke about two Iraqis who came to the United States and were radicalized, adding, erroneously, "and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre."

She then said: "Most people don't know that because it didn't get covered."

In fact, in May 2011, two Iraqi men were arrested in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and charged with attempting to send weapons and money to al Qaeda in Iraq. They admitted to using improvised explosive devices against U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Mohanad Shareef Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life in prison and to 40 years in prison, respectively. Neither was charged with plotting attacks within the United States, prosecutors said.

Conway said on Twitter that she meant to say "Bowling Green terrorists" on the show. She also slammed a network reporter for criticizing her.

"NBC reporter texted me at 632am re:a diff story; never asked what I meant on @Hardball b4 slamming me on @TODAYshow Not cool, not journalism," Conway (@KellyannePolls) wrote.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by David Ingram and Bernadette Baum)