In a strangely worded tweet, Donald Trump on Wednesday promoted a conspiracy theory that the Obama administration supported the Iraqi terrorist group that eventually morphed into ISIS.
In reference to the recent terror attack in Orlando, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee suggested this week that Obama either “doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands,” which many interpreted as implying that Obama is sympathetic to ISIS.
Trump took it up a notch on Wednesday, sharing a Breitbart story headlined: “Hillary Clinton Received Secret Memo Stating Obama Admin ‘Support’ for ISIS.”
He followed it up with a tweet saying: “The press is so totally biased that we have no choice but to take our tough but fair and smart message directly to the people!”
The Breitbart story alleged that Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, “received a classified intelligence report stating that the Obama administration was actively supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group that became the Islamic State.”
Breitbart is a notorious right-wing website that often shares outlandish stories with little to no basis in fact.
The 2012 memo reportedly came from someone within the Defence Intelligence Agency and included “reporting from the field by an intelligence agent,” according to Breitbart. The right-wing news outlet also states that “the report identifies Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) as being one of the principal elements of the Syrian opposition, which the West was choosing to ‘support.'”
A representative for House Speaker Paul Ryan did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. Neither did a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
While ISIS does fight the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a leader the US insists must step down, there’s evidence that, to some extent, the regime and ISIS actually have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Last year, as ISIS was pushing toward Aleppo, the Syrian regime largely failed to strike the militants, choosing to focus instead on other rebel groups that don’t have terrorist affiliations.
Because Assad seeks to portray his opposition as “terrorists,” he has something to gain from allowing ISIS to operate in certain areas while he focuses most of the regime’s energy on eliminating more moderate rebel groups that Western countries support. While the rebels focus mostly on taking down the Assad regime, ISIS fights both the rebels and regime forces.
While the US has supported some rebel groups in Syria, Obama administration support has largely been limited to rebel groups that are fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda.
There have been conspiracy theories going around about the US supporting or creating ISIS, but these are unsubstantiated. The US did not support Al Qaeda in Iraq, a group that, before its evolution into ISIS, targeted US troops during the Iraq War.
Nevertheless, many in the Middle East believe that the US created or supports ISIS, and it’s fuelling anti-American sentiment in the region.
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