That context, according to Myrick, was a case in which a group of North Carolina-based men smuggled cigarettes and funneled the profits to the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Myrick made the original comments, which aggravated long-held tensions between the congresswoman and the Muslim community, during a question-and-answer session after a talk at the Heritage Foundation in 2003. She talked up the domestic terrorism threat and said:
"You know, and this can be misconstrued, but honest to goodness [my husband] Ed and I for years, for 20 years, have been saying, 'You know, look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country.' Every little town you go into, you know?"
At the time Myrick came under from Arab-American groups as well as the National Association of Convenience Stores. She responded by saying she was simply trying to highlight "the illegal trafficking of food stamps through convenience stores for the purpose of laundering money to countries known to harbor terrorists."
And she added, the Charlotte Observer reported, "I've got Arab friends."