During the Saturday-night debate on ABC News, Democratic front-runner frontrunner Hillary Clinton claimed that ISIS is showing people videos of Donald Trump “in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”
She then dubbed Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner, “ISIS’ best recruiter.”
Pundits debated the claim all weekend, and several fact-checkers ruled that there’s no evidence to back up Clinton’s claim about the terrorist group. And one ISIS propaganda expert told Business Insider that the group actually talks about President Barack Obama more than Trump.
J.M. Berger, a Brookings Institution fellow and coauthor of the recent book, “ISIS: The State of Terror,” told Business Insider that he isn’t aware of any ISIS videos featuring Trump.
“They talk about [Trump] on social media, but not necessarily in a calculated, organised way,” Berger said in an email.
“They talk about Obama more, since he’s the one actually acting against [ISIS]. Trump has been a bit of a sideshow until now. That could change now that they see some headline potential following the debates.”
One recent ISIS propaganda video featured several US politicians — former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband, among them — but made no mention of Trump.
When asked what Clinton was referring to with her claim Saturday night, spokesman Jesse Ferguson initially pointed to comments from Rita Katz, an expert on ISIS propaganda and co-founder of the SITE Intelligence group. Katz told NBC News recently that ISIS follows “everything Donald Trump says” and references his proposed Muslim ban as proof that America hates Muslims.
But it appears that the claim about videos specifically can’t be verified.
Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri went on ABC’s “This Week” to respond to the scepticism over Clinton’s statement. She said Clinton was “not referring to a specific video” but noted that Trump “is being used in social media by ISIS as propaganda.”
Katz also couldn’t confirm that ISIS is using any specific videos of Trump. When asked about the Clinton campaign using her quotes to back up the video statement, Katz pointed to her tweet from Sunday that said, “ISIS didn’t feature Trump in a video, but ISIS supporters/recruiters have used Trump’s rhetoric to promote ISIS’ ideas and agenda.”
“And as you could see, the NBC original article didn’t mention anything about a video,” she added in an email to Business Insider.
SITE’s Joe Cleffie also passed along a December 14 report from the group that noted jihadists citing Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the US as a reason for Muslims to leave the US.
After Trump’s statement proposing the ban, jihadists on Twitter reportedly expressed a “lack of surprise” and characterised the proposal as “Western oppression against Muslims,” according to the SITE report.
The report cites tweets from ISIS supporters, a supposed ISIS fighter, and a fighter for the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.
One tweet from an ISIS supporter said: “Why are people shocked with Trump he only said what most kufar [disbelievers] are afraid of saying.”
Another ISIS supporter tweeted, “The actions of Trump are just a trailer of what is awaiting Muslims in future in” Western countries. And yet another ISIS sympathizer said, “I wonder if President Trump will allow Muslims to leave the US for Dawlah [ISIS territory]. He hates Muslims so much, allow those that want to leave and live with other committed brothers and sisters without kuffar oppression.”
“This is the sort of thing we are seeing,” Cleffie said in an email.
“Hillary Clinton suggesting that Donald Trump is being used in an ISIS recruiting video, man, talk about chutzpah,” Bush, who is also seeking the Republican nomination for president, said on Bill Bennett’s radio show. “There’s no evidence of that. There’s no evidence of that at all.”
Trump also slammed Clinton, calling her a “liar” on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“She lies like crazy about everything,” Trump said. “She’s a liar and everybody knows that.” On Monday, Trump demanded an apology for what he called a “disgusting” claim.
Though it’s unclear whether ISIS — which is also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, and Daesh — has featured Trump in videos, the group does push the message of a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. Some experts have argued that Trump’s rhetoric can be used as validation.
Clinton’s campaign did not immediately respond to an additional request for comment on Monday.
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